Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) will partner to offer a range of health care services to seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.
The 10-year collaboration will begin in January 2023 at 15 Walmart Health locations in Florida and Georgia and will gradually expand to new markets. The companies expect to serve hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries in value-based arrangements through multiple Medicare Advantage plans.
“We’re on a journey to transform health care, connecting more people to the right care at the right time — at a cost that makes sense,” said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon in an announcement. “This collaboration puts the patient at the center of health care by leveraging the strength and complementary skill sets of our two companies to accelerate access to quality care.”
The partnership includes the establishment of a co-branded Medicare Advantage plan in Georgia, called the UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Walmart Flex (HMO-POS). A telehealth component through Walmart Health Virtual Care will be an in-network service for commercial members in UnitedHealthcare’s Choice Plus PPO health plan.
Over time, the companies will also extend their collaboration to include commercial and Medicaid plans, as well as programs to address social determinants of health and cover prescription drugs, dental and vision services.
Medicare Advantage plans do not currently cover hospice care outside of the value-based insurance design model demonstration, often called the MA hospice carve-in. However, providers often work with MA plans to support upstream services like palliative care, home health, or PACE.
A key aspect of the partnership will rely on UnitedHealth Group’s subsidiary Optum and its analytics and decision support platforms.
Both Optum and Walmart have taken previous steps to deepen their presence in the home-based care space, including hospice.
Case in point, Optum earlier this year agreed to acquire home health and hospice provider LHC Group (NASDAQ: LHCG) for $5.5 billion.
A Lafayette, La.-based hospice, home health and facility- and community-based care provider, LHC Group has locations across 37 states and the District of Columbia, reaching 60% of the country’s 65 and older population.
The Walmart partnership will give LHC Group expanded access to patients receiving services through the retail behemoth’s expanding health care business.
For its part, Walmart in 2019 began a partnership with Amedisys Inc. (NASDAQ: AMED) that included hospice care, which also launched in Georgia markets.
“UnitedHealth Group and Walmart share a deep commitment to high-quality and affordable primary care led services that address all of a patient’s health needs in ways that are convenient for them and improve health outcomes,” UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty, said in a statement.