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The company announced last Thursday that it will become the first retailer to offer a national program that covers certain heart, spine and transplant procedures for its employees. Essentially, when the 1.1 million employees and dependents enrolled in the company's health plan need those procedures, Wal-Mart will steer them to six "centers of excellence" around the nation, including Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, at no additional cost to them.
It could be a major step toward other firms directly contracting with hospitals of their choice, potentially reshaping referral patterns.
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