Walmart’s retail strategy in health care follows the model of hospitals and health systems of bundling and unbundling services. Walmart’s health care strategy is based on price competition, following the EDLP strategy that permeates throughout the organization.
After more than a decade of transforming health care for its associates and customer base, Walmart is intent on playing an even larger role. Walmart will continue to expand its health care services for customers and employees until or unless the company “hits a third rail” by entering a space in which it can’t compete effectively.
Lori Flees, senior vice president and COO of Walmart Health, officially launched Walmart Insurance Services Oct. 6, 2020. The insurance agency will “assist people with enrolling in insurance plans and simplify what’s historically been a cumbersome, confusing process.”
Walmart Insurance Services will provide Medicare products, including Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. The products will be initially offered by Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Simply Health, WellCare, Clover Health and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, with more insurers to be added. Walmart Insurance Services will begin selling Medicare insurance plans during this year’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.
This recent activity follows Walmart’s working with DirectHealth.com which began in 2014. DirectHealth and Walmart launched Healthcare Begins Here, an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options. DirectHealth.com is an online health insurance comparison site which is an independent licensed health insurance agency.
DirectHealth.com also manages relationships with licensed insurance agents, enabling customers to compare coverage options and enroll in the plan that is right for them whether that be a Medicare plan or Public Healthcare Exchange plan through online, phone and in-store services.
Since 2005, Walmart has hosted insurance agents from individual insurers in stores to answer questions and enroll customers in specific healthcare plans. Healthcare Begins Here, through DirectHealth.com, takes this offering to the next level in response to customers who wanted more options to choose from.
Lori Flees is taking on a newly created role at Walmart. Currently senior vice president and general merchandising manager of health and wellness at the company’s Sam’s Club division, Flees has been appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart Health and Wellness.
A second new position, executive vice president of health and wellness, will be filled later, with Flees leading the business on an interim basis. As COO, she will oversee all aspects of daily health and wellness business operations and transformation.
Takeaway: Walmart is aggressively building its Health and Wellness organization to fill the void created by the departure of Sean Slovenski who oversaw the creation of the Walmart Health center format