Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A Walmart-Humana deal targets pharmacy customers. Photos: Diego Herculano / NurPhoto and iStock via Getty Images

Walmart's potential buyout of Humana could be one of the most consequential deals in the feverish turf war of health care mergers, because it targets the spending power of the aging population.

The big picture: If a Walmart-Humana deal comes to fruition, which is still a big "if," Walmart would catapult from being the most recognizable American retailer into an even bigger corporate powerhouse with a tight grip on billions of federal health care dollars.

The details: Walmart could buy Humana, the Wall Street Journal reported, or the two companies could expand their current relationship.

Walmart and Humana already have a co-branded Medicare Part D plan, which covers prescription costs for people in the traditional Medicare program. More than 5.3 million people have a Humana drug plan, and membership has been growing like crazy as more Walmart shoppers sign up, the company said in its annual filing.

The impact: Many more major health care services would fall under Walmart and Humana's combined roof, including:

  • 3.5 million seniors and disabled people with private Humana Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Humana's pharmacy benefit manager, the fourth-largest in the country by filled prescriptions.
  • Home health services, thanks to Humana's pending acquisition of Kindred Healthcare.
  • Humana's Conviva health clinics.
  • 4,400 Walmart pharmacies.
  • PillPack would add more mail-order prescriptions if Walmart follows through on that rumored acquisition.

The bottom line: Seniors and low-income shoppers already are Walmart's core demographics. With Humana, Walmart could easily snag a piece of their their health care spending (which is heavily subsidized by taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid), and boost food and retail sales in the process.

Keep in mind: Some of the most valuable retail customers are the people who pick up prescriptions.

  • Pharmacy customers spend almost four times more than people who only shop for groceries, according to investor documents posted by Albertsons, which is acquiring Rite Aid pharmacies.
  • Pharmacy customers visit a store 2.3 times per week compared with less than once a week for regular shoppers.
  • A Walmart-Humana deal would "preserve the pharmacy volume (and subsequent incremental spend inside the store)," according to financial analysts with Barclays.

Looking ahead: The two other major mega-mergers, CVS-Aetna and Cigna-Express Scripts, similarly consolidate the prescription drug market.

Go deeper

30 mins ago - Health

Health care in the New Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As America emerges from the pandemic, here's a special Axios AM Deep Dive on the Biden administration's health care agenda.

46 mins ago - World

Palestinian Authority announces new COVID restrictions as cases surge

A nurse administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday announced fresh coronavirus restrictions, including a partial lockdown, for the occupied West Bank as COVID-19 cases surge.

The big picture: The new measures come as Israel, which leads the world in vaccinations, faces increased pressure to ensure Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have equal access to vaccines.

Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's Ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

Details: State television said the ambassador had "betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador."