- Walmart will now sell health insurance policies directly to its customers, a spokesperson told Healthcare Dive, confirming speculation sparked by job postings from the retailer for Medicare sales managers and insurance agents, first reported by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
- Analysts with SVB Leerlink said the move underscores the attractiveness of this market and the likelihood of increased competition over time, while Walmart's reach across U.S. consumers — including seniors — has the potential to drive up volume for Medicare plans.
- Online price lists for basic healthcare services at Walmart Care Clinics show pricing at a 35% to 40% discount to rival CVS HealthHUBs on basic, identical health services, "an ominous sign" for CVS "given that it is still early days in the development of retail-based care delivery," according to SVB Leerink’s report.
The move is the latest in Walmart’s foray into the healthcare space. The retailer already has 18 Care Clinics across Texas, Georgia and South Carolina, providing treatment for chronic and acute illnesses, though the clinics do not currently accept Medicare Advantage plans, analysts noted.
Walmart has a major presence in Texas, where the new job postings are listed. It's also a state where the managed care organization market share is heavily concentrated in the hands of UnitedHealthcare and Humana.
That could make Texas "an ideal market to launch an effort like this," analysts said, given Walmart's strong brand equity, dense store network and relatively few key MCOs to contract with.
According to the SVB Leerink report, Humana — the second largest MA plan in Texas — has worked closely with Walmart for the past decade on standalone Medicare Part D plans. In 2018, there was speculation the payer was in talks with Walmart for a closer alliance or a merger.
Last month Walmart acquired the technology platform CareZone, a venture-backed startup that develops apps to help people manage medications and chronic illnesses. The deal was pegged at $200 million.
The retail giant has long been seen as a potential major disruptor for the healthcare industry. It continues to sell a list of generic medications for no more than $4 and is piloting a health-focused store in Georgia. Other retailers like CVS and Walgreens have also stepped up in the space recently, although not with payer products.