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Life Health > Health Insurance > Medicare Planning

Walmart Makes Medicare Plan Deal With UnitedHealth

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What You Need to Know

  • Launching in 2023, the new arrangement will involve plans and clinics in Florida and Georgia.
  • Walmart has hosted Medicare plan distribution efforts for more than a decade.
  • Walmart has not said whether, or how, the new UnitedHealth relationship could affect its other Medicare relationships.

Walmart and UnitedHealth have teamed up to do something involving primary health care delivery and Medicare Advantage plans.

The full scope of the companies’ 10-year agreement is unclear, but the companies said today that they will team up to offer a Medicare Advantage plan in Georgia starting in January 2023.

What It Means

For advisors and health insurance agents, the deal could lead to more questions from clients about what Walmart is up to.

The deal probably won’t have much concrete effect on Medicare plan enrollment, or Medicare plan agents, anywhere outside of Georgia during the 2023 Medicare Advantage and Medicare drug plan annual enrollment period, which is set to start Oct. 15 and run through Dec. 7.

It’s not clear what kind of effect, if any, the relationship could have on the Medicare plan market or other health insurance markets after 2023.

The Background

Walmart is one of the biggest retail store operators in the world, with 10,500 stores and wholesale clubs located around the world, access to 230 million customers and wholesale club member visitors per week, annual revenue that’s approaching $600 billion and about $44 billion in annual health and wellness product and service sales.

The company began offering a health care discount card program developed by a unit of UnitedHealth in 2005.

Walmart has been working with distributors of Humana Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans since 2011.

The company started a Walmart Health primary care clinic business in 2019, and it set up its own Walmart Insurance Services insurance broker arm in 2020. Walmart Health now has 27 locations in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois.

Walmart began working with a health insurance startup Clover Health to begin selling Medicare Advantage plans in Georgia starting with the 2021 coverage year.

Walmart’s 2006 move to offer some common drugs for just $4 had a major effect on U.S. prescription drug pricing, but it gives few details about its health and wellness operations, and how much of its health and wellness revenue comes from health insurance distribution or health care delivery operations.

UnitedHealth is one of the biggest health insurers in the United States, with about $288 billion in annual revenue. It accounts for 7.9 million, or 28%, of the Medicare Advantage program’s 28 million enrollees.

The Deal

UnitedHealth and Walmart said the new relationship will start out affecting 15 Walmart locations in Florida and Georgia to start.

The companies intend to offer the UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Walmart Flex (HMO-POS) in Georgia starting in January 2023.

UnitedHealth will add the Walmart Health Virtual Care telehealth service to the UnitedHealthcare Choice Plus PPO plan network in at least some states.

Walmart will use consulting services from UnitedHealth’s Optum unit to improve its retail clinic operations.

UnitedHealth and Walmart have not talked about other relationship details, or about Walmart’s existing relationships with Humana, Clover and other health insurers.

But the companies said they expect the relationship to grow over the years.

The collaboration will “expand into new geographies over time, ultimately serving hundreds of thousands of seniors and Medicare beneficiaries in value-based arrangements through multiple Medicare Advantage plans,” the companies said.

The relationship could also involve enrollees in commercial health insurance plans and Medicaid plans, and access to food, the companies added.

(Photo: Bloomberg)


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