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Walmart Jumps Into the Medicare Plan Distribution Market

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Walmart is putting its corporate muscle behind the idea of getting consumers excited about buying Medicare plans.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant announced today that its new Walmart Insurance Services LLC insurance agency division will be ready to sell Medicare plans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia starting Oct. 15, the first day of the Medicare plan annual election period.

The Medicare plan annual election period, or regular annual enrollment period, runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

Resources

  • A copy of Walmart’s announcement about the new Medicare plan sales program is available here.
  • An article about Walmart selling Medicare plans from Clover Health in the Atlanta area is available here.

Lori Flees, the chief operating officer of the Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness unit, wrote in a blog entry about the health insurance agency effort that the agency unit will start out selling Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare supplement insurance policies, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans from units of Humana, UnitedHealth Group, Anthem, Amerigroup , SimplyHealth, Centene, Clover Health, and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

“More carriers may be added in the future,” Flees wrote in the blog entry.

The insurance agency is domiciled in Arkansas and has the National Producer Number 19555670, according to the Walmart license entry in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ State Based Systems licensee database.

The Walmart agency’s Arkansas license took effect Oct. 1 and expires Sept. 30, 2021.

Flees did not say whether the agency unit will sell individual major medical insurance, or health insurance products other than Medicare plans and individual major medical coverage.

Walmart did not appear on the list of “entities approved to use enhanced direct enrollment,” or core HealthCare.gov web broker partners, that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services posted Oct. 1.

At press time, Walmart’s National Producer Number did not appear to show up in the HealthCare.gov agent-broker registration list.

The State Based Systems entry shows that David Sullivan of California is the designated licensed producer, and that Walmart Insurance Services has relationships with 32 insurance producers.

The entry lists Flees as the agency’s manager and president, and Sullivan as the manager and secretary.

The History

Walmart has been operating in the health care and health coverage markets for years.

In 2005, for example, its Sam’s Club wholesale club unit offered a medical care discount card from an arm of UnitedHealth Group.

The company’s stores began offering $4 flat-rate generic drug prescription prices in 2006.

The whole sale club unit added a $99 health screening wellness package in 2011.

Walmart began working with DirectHealth.com to run an in-store health coverage program in 2014.

Walmart has had an especially close relationship with Humana over the years, and there were rumors in 2018 that Walmart might acquire Humana.

The new effort appears to reflect Walmart taking charge of its own insurance sales efforts, rather than relying on an outside company to serve as the licensed entity.

Although Walmart has become a major player in the health care and health coverage markets, it has not monopolized those markets. In spite of its flat-rate generic drug prescription program, for example.

Walmart ranked fifth in the United States in terms of prescription drug revenue in 2018, and it accounted for just 4.9% of U.S. prescription drug revenue that year, according to Drug Channels Institute data.

— Read A Walmart-Humana Deal Sounds Wild, But Would Make Senseon ThinkAdvisor.

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