If you have not been paying attention, a lot is going on right now. Between the election and the many changes it will bring, we have to stay adamant about the future, and Walmart is taking active steps to become involved. The giant chain of stores are now offering what was described as an “Amazon Prime”-like experience, where those enrolling not only feel comfortable in their choices, but also fits their budget.
Remember, as always, come to us first with these questions. We’re here to help!
The Medicare insurance signup for this year’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) begins October 15th and ends December 7th, according to Fox Business. Walmart has obtained licensing to issue health insurance, and so they are doing so, under the name: “Walmart Insurance Services.” They will be offering what General Manager of Walmart Insurance Services stated: “We want customers to feel confident in selecting a Medicare plan that best fits their needs, budget, and lifestyle…and we want to be a trusted partner on their health care journey.” Are they worth trusting with this deal, though?
Well, for sure! According to Medicare Advantage planning agents (i.e. us), 1 in 10 Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolling, which allows the plan to save them most out-of-pocket spending. It seems pretty clear that Walmart truly wishes to help, especially at a time when everyone is strapped for cash and needs a good health insurance plan. However, there is always flaw where there is hope, and the fact is, Walmart has never truly run their own insurance platform, let alone Medicare, of which may be one of the most important, albeit influential health coverage plans to have.
Think about it. Though they are announcing as of Tuesday the 6th of October, that they will be entering not only the pharmacy industry but also as an insurance broker, are they capable of bridging the proper gap between “insurance acceptor” and “broker”? Well, it is a question that time will tell, but for now we will go over the basics. As a licensed insurance brokerage retailer, their goal is simple: “”assisting people with enrolling in insurance plans – and simplify…a cumbersome, confusing process.”
Walmart may be following in the footsteps of several other giants who tried to make this same transition (including but not limited to: Amazon, Google, CVS, Publix…). All of those failed, so what makes this one different? Well, for starters, they are at least doing one thing right that the others did not: they are partnering with actual health insurance coverage services rather than restricting people’s choices to only their plan.
In other words, my dear readers, they have managed to gain the trust of Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Simply Health, Wellcare, and need I say more? These are now partners-in-crime, meaning they will not be forcing people to use their own plan. Rather, they are implementing a new system where suddenly, they are for once doing things right by instead partnering with other health insurance agencies to develop their system. Smart, right?
However, there is still a wide margin-of-error. For one, Walmart may be able to offer these health insurance plans, including Medicaid (which has risen as one of the top insurance retailers – ever), but are they prepared for the plethora of individuals actually applying for this stuff? Walmart, of all places, is known for self-automation: half of their checkout lines are typically done by our own hand, and it is worrisome to me that though they may have done every step correctly, can they handle the volume?
When people need health insurance, and need a health care provider, the typical move is to either a) contact someone like us, or b) go to the cheapest alternative. In this case, the “cheapest alternative” is a company that is often considered a thrift store for those with little-to-no money that could be spent at a more legitimate offering. That is my main concern, as Walmart is already known for (and I admit) great customer service, but a very horrendous capacity to handle a move like this.
We will find out in the coming weeks (possibly months) to see how well they are doing, and we will do a follow-up blog post on this subject. For now, we can leave it off as: though Walmart may be joining the fight, this particular year is different. The world is changing before our very eyes, and it is good to see companies like this trying to assist. However, they may be licensed but that does not mean they are prepared.
Recall Google did this once back in 2012. They failed miserably because they had technical glitches, i.e. their servers quite literally shut down due to the vastness of those applying. In fact, one incident actually led to an assault when an unnamed source got into a fight with the broker, who felt he needed insurance more than the other. Is Walmart ready to compete in this disparaging market? Time will tell.
In the meantime, need health insurance advice? Do make sure to contact us for more information as we can provide it as you need. Stay safe from COVID, protect yourselves, love yourselves, take care of yourself and your families, and reach out to us. We are great at what we do here, and we hope this has been informative. We wish Walmart the best of success, but in the end the best way to go is the traditional route…