Walmart, Anthem partner for over-the-counter drugs

Health insurance plan provider Anthem announced Monday that it has teamed up with Walmart to launch a program next year to let its Medicare Advantage plan customers to buy over-the-counter medications from the retailer’s stores and website.

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The new collaboration, expected to launch in January 2019, will cater only to those enrolled in Anthem-affiliated Medicare Advantage plans and will enable them to use over-the-counter allowances to buy certain medications, health supplies and pain relievers at any of Walmart’s 4,700 locations or on Walmart.com.

The deal is set to boost both companies’ goals of reducing health care costs.

Felicia Norwood, executive vice president and president, government business division, Anthem, said in a statement that, “Creating a better healthcare future requires us to think differently about how we can develop innovative and meaningful healthcare solutions for consumers.”

Norwood added that both Anthem and Walmart believe the move can make a tremendous difference for health care consumers who “often live on a fixed income or are managing chronic medical conditions.”

However, Walmart has been aggressively expanding its prescription drug plan offerings for years.

The retailer already has a long-standing deal with insurer Humana that offers customers a co-branded Medicare drug plan that steers patients into Walmart stores.

During an earnings call earlier this month, Humana’s chief executive said even despite its recent deal to develop clinics inside Walgreens Boots Alliance drugstores, it plans to expand its partnership with Walmart, but he did not elaborate on details.

The Walmart-Humana partnership offers a prescription drug plan that saves customers up to 20 percent in drug costs.