Walmart is launching health plans through a new brokerage that will be available for the first time for seniors signing up this fall for Medicare medical and drug benefits in 2021.
The move announced Tuesday by Walmart comes at a time of intense competition in the health insurance industry for the booming population of seniors eligible for Medicare benefits. Already, myriad big health insurers are expanding into hundreds of new counties to sell both private Medicare Advantage health coverage and Medicare part D drug benefits.
In Walmart’s case, the retailer is launching “Walmart Insurance Services,” which is a licensed insurance brokerage the retailer says will “assist people with enrolling in insurance plans—and simplify what’s historically been a cumbersome, confusing process.” Walmart Insurance Services will be working with several existing national and regional health insurance carriers including Humana, UnitedHealth Group’s UnitedHealthcare health insurance unit and Centene’s Wellcare Health Plans.
“At launch, Walmart Insurance Services will provide Medicare plans (Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans) offered by Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Simply Health, Wellcare (Centene), Clover Health and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield,” Lori Flees, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness said Tuesday. “We are licensed in all 50 states, plus Washington D.C., and we have built a team of licensed insurance agents who can help people find the right insurance plan for them.”
Walmart Insurance Services will begin selling these Medicare medical and drug benefit plans during this year’s annual enrollment period, which runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.
Walmart is entering a competitive business. Insurers began last week announcing their expansions in new regions ahead of the annual open enrollment period when seniors eligible for Medicare can choose new benefits or stay with their existing plans.
In the case of Medicare Advantage plans, Walmart will offer several option. These plans contract with the federal government to provide extra benefits and services to seniors, such as disease management and nurse help hotlines with some also offering vision, dental care and wellness programs. Every state in the U.S. offers Medicare Advantage and choices of plans are soaring with practically every major plan offering options that include “$0 Medicare Advantage 2021 premiums.”
Walmart vowed to be competitive.
“We want customers to feel confident in selecting a Medicare plan that best fits their needs, budget and lifestyle,” Walmart Insurance Services general manager David Sullivan said. “And we want to be a trusted partner on their health care journey. Helping customers select the right Medicare insurance plan to meet their needs aligns with Walmart’s mission of helping people save money and live better.”