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Walmart goes all in on Medicare health plans

Instead of going head-to-head, it’s cutting deals with major Medicare providers to offer consumers more options

Photo (c) Wolterk - Getty Images
If you’re a senior citizen and Medicare insurance subscriber, you probably know that open enrollment is nearly upon us. This year, Walmart has decided to enter the Medicare insurance arena.

During the annual enrollment period (AEP) beginning October 15 and running through December 7, Walmart’s new licensed insurance brokerage -- Insurance Services, LLC -- will help interested parties enroll in insurance plans. While it’s not calling out its competitors, Walmart is posturing itself by saying it’s simplifying what has historically been a “cumbersome, confusing process.” 

“Health care can be complicated. But we think quality health care should be within reach of everyone, and pricing should be transparent and affordable,” said Lori Flees, SVP and COO, Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness, in the company’s announcement.

“Our money-saving $4 generic prescription program and, more recently, Walmart Health locations are helping customers save money and live healthier. Similarly, our Healthcare Begins Here program has helped customers navigate the very complex health insurance system for years.”

Ready for competition

Walmart has its geographic ducks in a row and is licensed in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., but its move into Medicare insurance won’t be a cakewalk. There are beaucoup insurance brands offering direct-to-consumer Medicare plans already. However, Walmart thinks it has a way to circumnavigate all those issues. 

At launch, Walmart Insurance Services will provide Medicare plans (Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans) offered by many of the larger insurers: Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Simply Health, Wellcare (Centene), Clover Health and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. 

And that’s just the starting point. Flees said that more carriers may be added in the future. 

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