Six months ago Walmart entered the auto insurance market and started selling auto insurance in its stores. Last week the retail giant announced it will do the same with health insurance.
Walmart is going to partner in this endeavor with its auto insurance partner TZ Insurance Solutions’ health unit DirectHealth.com.
Labeed Diab is the president of Wal-Mart’s health and wellness division. He said, “For years, our customers have told us that there is too much complexity when it comes to understanding their health insurance options. We saw a need to bring more transparency and simplicity. The more we can broaden the assortment, the more we can educate our customer, the better off we will be.”
PIA National Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Becker disagrees with Diab and with Walmart and is critical of the decision to move into health insurance. He — like others in the industry — suggest it is best to go through an independent insurance agent for such purchases.
“Buying any kind of insurance through a local, independent insurance agent whose only business is insurance is much better than doing it through Walmart or any other discount retailer. Professional independent insurance agents can shop many different insurance companies. They are also uniquely qualified to provide consumers with expert advice on obtaining their choice of coverage and price. You can't get that kind of service from a kiosk."
For those over age 65, Walmart said it will offer 1,700 plans from 12 carriers. People under 65 will have access to 300 carriers. By the way, the superstore says it will receive no commission from the sale of health insurance in its stores.
At the same time Walmart announced plans to sell health insurance in its stores, the company said it is cutting health insurance coverage for 30,000 of its part-time employees. These are people working less than 30-hours a week.
It’s about 5% of its 1.4 million person work force and in doing so Walmart is following a trend set by Target, Home Depot and others. The company said it will use third party organizations to help these employees find alternatives to the company insurance.
One last announcement. IKEA also said it will start selling homeowners insurance at select stores in the next few weeks.
Sources: Insurance Business America, Insurance Business America