Walmart Enters the HealthCare Marketplace

Walmart signBack in September 2013, Steve Kraus, vice president of Bessemer Venture Partners, which has an undisclosed stake in private-exchange operator Liazon, made a prediction about  the future of private exchanges. “I actually don’t rule out a surprise entry” into the private-exchange business, Kraus said in an interview with CNBC. He said “Companies that already sell ‘books, electronics, food on-line,’ could view private exchange insurance as big potential opportunity that would leverage their existing skills of offering customers products with competing price points in an attractive, easy-to-navigate Web platform.”

One year later, and Kraus’ predictions were right, at least for one company! Walmart, the Arkansas-based retailer, has teamed up with to launch what they are calling Healthcare Begins Here – “an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options.” The partnership was said to be an easy one for both parties, as they each promote themselves as companies that “help people save money and live better.” As a result of this partnership, Walmart shoppers will be able to compare and shop for health plans with a licensed sales agent both in-store and over the phone. Customers may also utilize to compare and shop for plans without assistance.

Walmart said DirectHealth will offer access to more than 1,700 plans for customers over the age of 65, from carriers including Aetna, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and certain Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For non-Medicare customers, it will offer access to “thousands of health exchange plans from more than 300 carriers.”

Private healthcare exchanges and marketplaces are growing in number. Every day there is an announcement for a new exchange or marketplace for employers and individuals to choose from.  So, what company will be next to enter the healthcare marketplace?

Please check back to KTP’s website for updates as much more information, including a comprehensive market map of the current private exchanges and marketplaces, will be released in the coming weeks.