Walmart eyes seniors in Medicare Advantage plans to fend off Amazon

With roughly a third of all Medicare beneficiaries, or 20 million people, enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, new entrants into the healthcare field are eyeing this hefty population. And retail giant Walmart is no exception, according to Forbes.

MA plans, which provide all Medicare benefits through contracts with private insurers, often offer more coordinated care at a lower overall cost. Walmart’s latest partnership with health insurer Anthem makes it clear the company intends to insert itself into the space.

The partnership will allow Anthem MA enrollees access to Walmart’s over-the-counter medications through allowances and could be just the first step in Walmart’s growing clout with insurers. Its move with Anthem is also another way the company is competing with Amazon, which has launched a number of its own healthcare initiatives, including an OTC business line, according to Forbes.

Walmart and Amazon are both looking to get a piece of the MA plan pie at a time when benefits are also expanding to include more non-medical services. Walmart has also been in recent talks to expand its partnership with Humana, one of the nation’s largest MA plans. Not to mention, Walmart has been rumored to potentially acquire Humana.

“As the likes of Amazon enter the prescription business, forging new upstream relationships in addition to its existing relationship with Humana for Part D will help solidify Walmart’s positioning as a major provider of healthcare services and health-related products for seniors,” Andrew Kadar, a managing director and partner in L.E.K. Consulting’s healthcare services practice, told Forbes.

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