Stories

The focus of a Walmart/Humana deal

A Walmart store
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Walmart is in early discussions about buying health insurer Humana, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Between the lines: A combined Walmart and Humana would control pharmacies, health insurance and a pharmacy benefit manager. Sound familiar? It’s almost identical to the CVS-Aetna deal.

  • Except Walmart and Humana would be geared heavily toward seniors and those living on more fixed incomes — the very same Medicare and Medicaid populations that have been growing like gangbusters as more baby boomers age and more states expand Medicaid to the poor.

The big question: One of the concerns surrounding the CVS-Aetna deal is whether it would consolidate too much market power and stack the deck against potential competitors. Expect to hear very similar questions about this deal, if it proceeds.

  • This would also provide some protection against Amazon's possible move into the pharmacy business — the kind of safety that pretty much the whole health care industry wants.