America’s largest retailer, Walmart, is adding Medicare health insurance plans to its plethora of in-store offerings -- just in time for the start of this year’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for the federal program.
Although this is not Walmart’s first foray into the business of healthcare, the launch of “Walmart Insurance Services,” a licensed insurance brokerage, aims to build on its endeavors to “simplify what’s historically been a cumbersome, confusing process,” according to a press release.
Through the new program, Walmart will offer health services at low, transparent prices to those 65 and older, as well as younger people with certain disabilities who qualify now until the enrollment period ends Dec. 7.
“We want customers to feel confident in selecting a Medicare plan that best fits their needs, budget and lifestyle, and we want to be a trusted partner on their health care journey,” Walmart’s Director of Global Communications Marliee McInnis told FOX Business. “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.”
The retail behemoth is making its Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans available through a handful of health insurers. Medicare Part D plans help cover the cost of prescription drugs.
Among the existing national and regional health insurers working with Walmart are: Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Simply Health, Wellcare (Centene), Clover Health and Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield. And with licensed insurance agents across all 50 states and Washington D.C. The retailer said more carriers are to follow.
Election Day comes right in the middle of the 2021 enrollment period for Medicare. With healthcare a hot button issue during the presidential and congressional campaigns, many insurers have been updating and expanding coverage options. Medicare has also taken a spotlight on Capitol Hill with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s ongoing hearing, as many Americans fret over whether or not the federal government will continue subsidizing funds.
In a heated exchange between the nominee and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat said “Some have argued that the Medicare program is unconstitutional” and described it some in critics’ view, as “an unconstitutional exercise in congressional spending power.”
Barrett said she could not “answer that question in the abstract.”
Walmart's move into the health care sector is greeted with a competitive business landscape. However, Walmart is differentiating itself by helping customers to find more affordable options.
According to the general manager of Walmart Insurance Services, David Sullivan, only one in 10 Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in a plan that saves them the most on out-of-pocket spending.
With potential turmoil and uncertainty brewing ahead of the election season, more people will be looking to find more affordable plans.