Walmart to offer health insurance shopping

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) will now offer its consumers a way to comparison shop health insurance plans. In a partnership with DirectHealth.com, an online health insurance comparison site and agency, Walmart shoppers can compare coverage options, or enroll in Medicare plans or the public exchange plans created under the Affordable Care Act, reported the Associated Press.

Walmart, like other big box retailers, is trying to offer customers more products beyond food and consumer packaged goods while also putting a greater emphasis on healthier living.

Two chains that have recently expanded their health care services options include Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) and CVS. Just last week Walgreens announced a partnership with WebMD to encourage U.S. shoppers to make healthier choices through incentives, and in spring the retailer introduced the "Way to Well" tour to provide free health tests, assessments, education and consulting services to communities across the country. To compete, CVS (NYSE:CVS) recently launched Fit Choices, a store brand line of healthy snacks.

Walmart customers can enroll in the program online, by phone or at 2,700 physical stores starting Oct. 10. Stores will be staffed with independent insurance agents from DirectHealth.com.

In spring, Walmart teamed up with Autoinsurance.com to help shoppers buy car insurance policies online.

Walmart will not receive a commission on any health coverage sales, but hopes it will drive foot traffic.

Labeed Diab, senior VP and president of Walmart's health and wellness division, said the move was a way to not only broaden the store's assortment but a way to build the brand's wellness and health division.

"The more we can broaden the assortment, the more we can educate our customer, the better off we will be," Diab told the Associated Press.

As part of the expansion into health care, Walmart is testing 11 health care clinics that offer primary care and health screenings. The Care Clinics offer walk-in medical services for a small fee.

For more:
-See this Associated Press article

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