Walmart, the nation's biggest employer, is trying to redesign how U.S. health care works. It's one of the few companies that has the power to succeed.
The retailer has been having early-stagetalks with Humana about strengthening their partnership, which could also entail an acquisition of the insurer, sources familiar with the situation told CNBC. It also approached online pharmacy start-up PillPack to scoop it up for under $1 billion.
These discussions are still early, but point to an ambitious vision in health care to offer services and potentially even take on risk for a large patient population, including lower-income Americans and seniors.
Walmart's moves come just weeks after three megacompanies — Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan — announced joint plans to improve the health care experience for their 1.3 million employees.
Walmart employs 2.3 million people. And it touches millions of Americans through its online marketplace and retail stores, where it sells everything from food to prescription medicines.
"Everyone in the country is talking about Amazon and its partners changing the landscape of self-insured, large employers," said Trevor Price, CEO of the health services firm Oxeon Partners, who closely follows Walmart.
"But the company that has the biggest opportunity to change landscape of health care, given all the Americans that walk through the door every week, is Walmart."