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Looking at Costco’s partnership with Sesame for telehealth


The warehouse’s members will be able to get virtual care appointments for $29. Sesame CEO David Goldhill is aiming to add more convenience to healthcare.

Costco is making a bigger move into healthcare, and Sesame has found a way to expand its telehealth services.

Costco and Sesame have established a partnership that enables Costco members to utilize Sesame’s telehealth services. Costco members can get a virtual primary care visit from Sesame for $29.

In addition, Sesame is offering Costco members health check-ups for $72; those include a lab panel and a virtual follow-up appointment with a provider. Costco members can also take advantage of virtual mental health therapy for $79. Bloomberg News first reported the partnership.

Sesame doesn’t accept health insurance, and the company pitches its offering as a plus for those Costco members without insurance, those who would rather pay cash because they have high-deductible health plans, and those that simply find the price appealing.

David Goldhill, Sesame’s co-founder and CEO, says the partnership fits with Costco’s brand.

“When it comes to health care, Sesame also delivers high quality and great value – and a low price that will be appreciated by Costco Members when it comes to their own care,” Goldhill said in a statement.

Costco joins a host of retailers making bigger plays in the world of healthcare.

Earlier this year Amazon completed its $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, which offers primary care and virtual care. CVS Health announced in February that it is buying Oak Street Health in a $10.6 billion deal. CVS also completed the acquisition of Signify Health, a network focusing on delivering care at home, earlier this year. VillageMD, backed by Walgreens Boots Alliance, purchased Summit Health-CityMD in a $8.9 billion deal in October.

Goldhill also is a nontraditional player in healthcare. He spent years as an entertainment executive. He served as president and CEO of the Game Show Network and president of TV at Universal Studios.

In an interview with Chief Healthcare Executive® in the spring, Goldhill said that entertainment experience is valuable, since he’s focused on giving consumers what they want. (See part of our April interview with David Goldhill. The story continues below.)

He says his journey into the healthcare world began when his father died of a hospital-acquired infection. In 2009, Goldhlill wrote a widely read article for The Atlantic, titled, “How American Health Care Killed My Father." Goldhill serves on the board of directors of The Leapfrog Group, which releases report cards on hospital patient safety.

Goldhill says patients have been attracted to Sesame’s prices, but the site’s ease of use has proven to be a big draw, according to patient surveys.

“About half of the people say just the ease of use is the reason they use it,” he says. “So even though the prices are much, much lower than you'll see anywhere else, we attract a significant number of people just because it's so easy to find.

“And then of course, it's also really easy both to find a doctor's availability and the times you want, and very easy to get a real sense of that particular provider's expertise, bedside manner, and reputation for follow through.”

Sesame has served as a marketplace for doctors to find patients, Goldhill says.

In the spring interview, Goldhill also talked about consumer-driven companies, and he mentioned Walmart and Costco.

“They are chasing you. You're not walking in and doing a lot of work. In fact, once you cross their thresholds, their doors, you're confident they've done the work for you of shopping. That's how a consumer-driven industry really works. We're obviously very far from that in healthcare,” Goldhill says.

But he says Sesame is aiming to be a truly consumer-driven company that “pushes you enough information to make your choice easier.”

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