Walmart is continuing its push into healthcare with the help of a powerful new partner: UnitedHealth Group.
The two companies have agreed to a 10-year partnership that aims to drive value-based care adoption for Walmart's clinicians as well as launch a new Medicare Advantage plan. The initiative will roll out in 2023 at Walmart Health locations in Florida and Georgia, with plans to continue expanding into new regions.
The partners expect to reach hundreds of thousands of MA members through the partnership, according to an announcement.
David Carmouche, M.D., senior vice president of omnichannel care offerings at Walmart, told Fierce Healthcare that the lengthy partnership highlights both companies' commitment to the initiative.
"This isn't a pilot," he said. "It’s a long-term commitment ot work together to extend value-based care models to seniors and Medicare beneficiaries across multiple geographies over time."
Through the partnership, UnitedHealth's Optum will assist Walmart Health clinicians in delivering comprehensive value-based care through data analytics and decision support tools. This will enhance the care these clinicians already provide at Walmart Health centers, the companies said.
Carmouche said driving greater adoption of value-based care within Walmart Health allows the company to push toward one of its key goals in healthcare: addressing affordability.
"It really allows us to fulfill the promise of trying to keep care affordable," he said. "The affordability piece we think is driven better in a value-based environment."
However, to successfully embrace value-based care, the company needed a partner with the expertise to assist, making UHG the right fit for this effort, Carmouche said.
In addition, the UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Walmart Flex plan will be available for the 2023 plan year in Georgia. Open enrollment for MA begins Oct. 15. Members enrolled in UHC's Choice Plus PPO plan will also be able to access Walmart Health Virtual Care in-network beginning in January.
The partnership focuses in MA for now, but the two companies plan to expand it in the future to reach Medicaid members as well as people in commercial plans. Carmouche said that MA made sense as a starting point, as the market is growing rapidly, and it's a segment in which Walmart already has a foothold with customers.
UnitedHealth Group said Walmart's scale and reach means the companies are well positioned to achieve their goals together.
"UnitedHealth Group and Walmart share a deep commitment to high-quality and affordable primary care," UHG said in a statement to Fierce. "Working together, we will bring Optum’s distinctive high-quality care model to more Medicare Advantage members in communities across the country. 90% of the population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart, so together we’re in a unique position to provide value-based health and wellness services to all Americans."