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Health insurance from Wal-Mart?

By Jay MacDonald ·
Friday, January 25, 2013
Posted: 10 am ET

In news that lends an exciting new dimension to the phrase "clean up on aisle five," Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, reportedly has big plans to expand into one of America's top growth markets: health care and health insurance.

It's not such a stretch. As the Orlando Business Journal observed, Wal-Mart is already the fourth largest pharmacy in the nation, routinely administers on-site vaccinations and even sells health insurance through its big-box Sam's Club chain. In fact, health and wellness products and services accounted for 11 percent of Wal-Mart's sales and 5 percent of Sam's Club business in 2011, according to the company's annual report.

But now, apparently inspired by the state health exchanges scheduled to open in 2014 under health care reform, Wal-Mart has set its sights on establishing its own branded health insurance exchange aimed at small businesses looking for a big hand with their health care plans.

Private health exchanges are popping up with some frequency these days. Recently, the consulting firm Aon Hewitt announced plans to set up a health insurance exchange for employees at Sears and at Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster. A competing consulting firm, Mercer, also is building a health insurance exchange for employers.

One advantage a Wal-Mart health exchange would have over the new federal-state exchanges is traffic -- lots and lots of traffic. But the government health exchanges will offer something that Walmart cannot: a small-business tax credit to qualifying employers.

Nor does the retail giant plan to ignore the profits possible from in-store clinics. While Wal-Mart lags well behind corner-pharmacy brands CVS and Walgreens with just 150 clinics nationally, Kaiser Health News reported that the company planned a huge expansion of its clinics more than a year ago. The Orlando Business Journal reports that Wal-Mart plans to offer full primary care services at its clinics in the next five to seven years. Wal-Mart has denied both reports.

Then again, the retail giant plays things pretty close to the vest these days after its ambitious plans to expand its MoneyCenters into a full-blown banking enterprise ran afoul of federal regulators a few years back.

One thing is certain: With U.S. health care spending at a staggering $2.7 trillion annually, or nearly 18 percent of the U.S. economy, Wal-Mart won't be the last major company to explore ways to affix its brand to American health care.

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Karen Moreno
January 29, 2013 at 10:21 pm

No I would not use Walmart Insurance. They have such bad business practices and treat their employees so badly I would not trust the kind of insurance they would provide.

January 29, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Yes, I would like to see a health insurance plan offer from Walmart. Right now I have Walmart-Humana for Part D Pharmacy, and it works EXTREMELY well. Absolutely great service with no problems at a better price than I had been paying for just Humana.

January 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm

For the obama what if they are paying 2 pct more. We have been paying taxes for year or democrat and get nothing in return for it... Think payroll,school and every tax you can think of they can add on bottom line. So stop trying to find anyway you can for ignorant comments.....if our taxes can help other countries and see nothing in retun then extra that will help americans be healthy and working is alright with me.. It is funny how you can make dumb comments about democrats employee when democratic tax payers help pay for 2 wars,congress unjust lifestyle and a host of other programs but you wasn't complaining then and i doubt when the cash for clunkers program was going on only democtatic dealerships was parlaying on it it was your dumb republicans too moron

January 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm

You all may rethink being on the negative side of this venture by walmart, It may be a refreshing business entry into the clouded insurance business. Today I paid my personal health care bill to one of the big guys, I pay in excess of 15k a year out of pocket, and would welcome a new comer with a new edge and possible competative rate situation. Walmart its worth the investigation into this business. Contact me I would love to help promote sales in NJ.

January 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Most of walmart products are produced in countries with approved slave labor camps. The employee's of Walmart are treated one step above the camps population where the products/goods are made.
Sam Walton's commercials used to say, we are proud to sell 90% of our goods stamped with the made in America;not anymore!
This company is not for fair wages and I'm sure there not for quality Health Insurance. We the people are the pawns for the waltons, they are like vultures trying to get the last piece of meat/ or american penny from the population.
If Walmart paid it's employees a living wage the co still would make Billions upon Billions for the Waltons.

January 29, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Well glad you can afford to pay more, you're in a better position than most. I will say I watch prices and Walmarts prices are creeping up to match the competitors. Their products have been increasing in price every week by 5 and 10 cents, soon it won't matter what store you shop in, then your boycott will make a difference, when everyone is sick of Walmart and want to make a difference. It will no longer matter where you shop as the prices will be all same. Unfortuately just a handful of boycotters doesn't make a difference to a company that big.

January 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm

the walmart employees will be eligible for Obamacare.
specially since the democrat employees would have noticed they are paying 2% increase in ss taxes this year,lol
they voted for obama and are too dumb to even read their paycheck

Rich O
January 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Interesting...Will WalMart employees be able to afford it or will they still be forcing them on to state Medicaid rolls as members of the working poor? WalMart fails to pay its people a living wage and in turn government programs like Medicaid and foodstamps end up picking the slack while the Walton family complains about how they are abused by being asked to actually pay their fair share in taxes.

January 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Would be really nice to see WalMart offering insurance plans to it's dominantly part-time employees!

January 29, 2013 at 12:51 pm

a very big HELLLLLL NOOOO, when Walmart starts paying fair wages for hard work and starts treating their employees with respect especially their older employees then maybe I'll shop at Walmart again but until then it will be a cold day in he** before I step foot in their stores, prefer to pay a little extra and drive a little futher and shop at K-Mart or Target.