Anthem, Walmart to collaborate in OTC medicines deal

Health insurance company Anthem has teamed up with Walmart in a bid to improve access to and lower the price of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and services, the companies announced Monday. The venture will impact enrollees of Anthem’s Medicare Advantage plans.

The Anthem-Walmart program, which is set to launch January 2019, will enable MA enrollees to purchase OTC medications and health-related items through allowances at Walmart stores and at Walmart.com.

“Creating a better healthcare future requires us to think differently about how we can develop innovative and meaningful healthcare solutions for consumers,” Felicia Norwood, executive vice president and president of the Government Business Division at Anthem, said in a statement. “We are pleased to join with Walmart to create an initiative that combines Anthem’s deep understanding of the needs of senior consumers, with Walmart’s unwavering commitment to saving people money and developing a seamless shopping experience. We believe that programs like this can make a tremendous difference for healthcare consumers who often live on a fixed income or are managing chronic medical conditions.”

The move is the latest example of major companies teaming up to tackle healthcare costs. Anthem’s enrollees are expected to save on out-of-pocket costs for OTC medications.

“Walmart is committed to making healthcare more affordable and accessible, and we are in constant pursuit of new ways to deliver on this commitment,” Sean Slovenski, senior vice president, Health and Wellness, Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working with Anthem to provide its Medicare Advantage members with convenient access to our broad assortment of high-quality over-the counter products—all available at everyday low prices.”

Slovenski was tapped to run Walmart’s healthcare business as of August 1 and was formerly an executive with Humana. Walmart, which has also been rumored to be considering an acquisition of Humana, has worked on drug plans with the insurance company. Anthem noted that 90 percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart brick-and-mortar store.