Costco members can look forward to a new perk: affordable health care.
In a Sept. 24 press release, the health tech company Sesame announced a partnership with Costco to bring low-cost primary care, annual checkups, and therapy to its members at a “discount.” A virtual doctor’s appointment through Sesame costs just $29 for Costco members, for example.
“Quality, great value, and low price are what the Costco brand is known for,” said David Goldhill, Sesame’s co-founder and CEO. “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.”
What Is Sesame?
Sesame is an online platform that connects patients with in-person and virtual health care professionals. The appeal is that consumers can pay cash to have direct-access to doctors and nurses. It’s a model suited to patients who already pay out of pocket, either because they are uninsured or have high-deductible plans.
What Do Patients Think of Sesame?
Although Sesame's partnership with Costco is new, the New York-based company has been operating since 2019, and the reviews are generally positive:
Trustpilot - 4.3 out of 5 stars
Better Business Bureau (BBB) Customer Reviews - 3.61 out of 5 stars
BBB Accredited since 2022, earning an A- grade
Patients praise the service for its convenience and affordability.
“I work full time and love that I can schedule appointments after hours and on weekends. I also love how affordable it is,” Haley B. wrote on BBB.
Ratings were similarly high on Trustpilot. “If you're hesitant about scheduling on Sesame, don't be! I've had nothing but positive experiences using this site,” one reviewer wrote, adding that their experience with Sesame has been better than traditional in-person care.
Though they’re in the minority, critics expressed frustration about prescription errors and appointment cancellations, with one recent reviewer writing that their provider never showed up. “I lost 55 minutes of my day for absolutely no reason whatsoever,” Teresa G. shared on BBB’s website.
What Do Costco Members Get?
Costco members receive discounted health care rates on select Sesame services, including:
Virtual primary care ($29)
Video prescription refill ($29)
Health check-up, including lab panel and virtual consult ($72)
Virtual mental health therapy ($79)
10% off other Sesame services
How Do Members Book With Sesame?
To access Costco’s discounted Sesame rates, you’ll have to activate an account with the health care company and verify your warehouse membership.
Create an account with Sesame and verify your Costco membership.
Search for telehealth or in-person appointments by specialty, condition, or provider.
Choose your provider and pay for your appointment upfront.
Complete a medical history form.
Show up for your in-person or virtual appointment (join via email link).
If you’re prescribed medication, you can ask for delivery (two to three business days) or same-day pickup at a local pharmacy.
Does Costco Offer Other Health Care Services?
Yes, Costco shoppers at any membership level can get between 2% and 40% off medications when not using insurance coverage for prescription drugs by signing up for the Costco Member Prescription Program. Flu immunizations are similarly affordable, with Costco ranking as the cheapest retailer for flu shots in our 2023 roundup. Costco’s optical department, available at around 500 locations, offers eye exams, prescription lenses, reading glasses, contacts, and sunglasses.
Why Is Costco Partnering With Sesame?
Costco is jumping on the bandwagon, following retailers Amazon, Walmart, and CVS, all of which offer similar direct access health care services. However, rather than acquiring Sesame — as Amazon did with One Medical in 2023 — Costco has chosen to partner with the health tech company.
The Bottom Line: An Option for the Uninsured
Costco’s partnership with Sesame is a compelling health care option for patients who are uninsured or have high deductibles. Otherwise, you’re probably better off sticking to in-network health care providers, especially for routine preventive care. The Affordable Care Act ensures that most health plans cover preventive services, including annual physical exams, at no extra cost. Patients without health insurance should also look into signing up for Medicare or Medicaid, both of which might be free depending on their income.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Does Sesame take insurance?
No. Sesame offers out-of-network services only, so you shouldn’t count on your insurance to cover any costs. That said, you can still try submitting a bill to your provider to receive at least some of your money back.
Who are the health care professionals who work for Sesame?
Sesame has a wide range of licensed specialists and general practitioners, from advanced practice registered nurses to physicians.
Where can I find more information about Sesame and Costco’s partnership?
Visit the Sesame website, or call the dedicated Sesame Costco support line from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, 7 days a week. You may also leave a voicemail after hours.