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July 9, 2020

Walmart just launched Walmart Insurance

Daily Briefing

    Walmart has created a new subsidiary, called Walmart Insurance Services, which will sell health insurance policies to consumers, a spokesperson for the organization has confirmed. 

    Walmart rumored to start selling Medicare Advantage plans to customers

    Walmart Apollo—the "intellectual property holding company" of Walmart, which is based in Arkansas—first filed the new subsidiary's name with the Arkansas Secretary of State on June 26, but the news was not widely reported at the time. According to MedCity News, the subsidiary will likely focus on selling Medicare Advantage plans, but the company did not provide further details on the plans. 

    Company spokesperson Marilee McInnis said the organization has offered "access to insurance information in Walmart Health locations" since at least 2005, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.

    In an email to MedCity News, the spokesperson wrote that the company also offers "a long-standing education program called Healthcare Begins Here to help people find the right insurance plan for them." But now, the company is "expanding [its] current insurance services to … include the sale of insurance policies" for the first time, McInnis wrote.

    Currently, job postings on Walmart's Careers website indicate the company is looking to hire Medicare insurance agents. The new hires—who can work at either a Dallas-area call center or remotely—will start enrolling customers in Medicare insurance plans beginning in August, according to the job postings.

    The job postings also seek a Medicare sales supervisor, a sales manager and sales trainer, and a quality assurance officer who will oversee sales calls, the Gazette reports. The job descriptions read, "Walmart strives to be a center of well-being in the communities we serve, and we have a unique, brand new opportunity to help millions of people find the best Medicare insurance available. … We need passionate health insurance professionals to help us build this new business from the ground up and achieve our mission."

    Walmart announces deal with PBM

    Walmart on Tuesday separately announced a partnership with Capital Rx, a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) startup that provides health plans with information on prescription drug prices.

    The deal would make Capital Rx the first PBM to offer price transparency for retail, specialty, and mail-order prescriptions, FierceHealthcare reports. The move would also bolster Walmart's role in the pharmacy industry, according to MedCity News.

    According to FierceHealthcare, Capital Rx currently offers its PBM services to employers and insurers via its "clearinghouse" model, in which it shares drugs' unit costs to clients. The model aims to prevent "spread pricing," FierceHealthcare reports, in which a PBM garners profits by charging payers substantially more than the pharmacy's price for a given drug.

    According to A.J. Loiacono, founder and CEO of Capital Rx, the partnership with Walmart will enable the startup to go beyond providing price information for retail drugs to providing that information for mail-order and specialty drugs, as well. The partnership will effectively "complete the model," Loiacono said, with Walmart providing fulfillment on mail and specialty drugs.

    "We take pride in providing affordable prices to more than 160 million customers who shop Walmart each week," said Walmart Health and Wellness VP Luke Kleyn. "Working with Capital Rx will allow us to do the same for prescription drugs" (Reuter, MedCityNews, 7/7; Business Insurance, 7/7; McKay, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 7/7; Minemyer, FierceHealthcare, 7/7).

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