Walmart and Anthem sign deal to expand access to over-the-counter medicines for seniors

  • Starting in January, patients who are enrolled in Anthem's Medicare Advantage plans can use their insurance to cover some over-the-counter medications as well as other goods like first aid supplies and pain relievers at Walmart.
  • Walmart offers a co-branded Medicare Advantage plan with Humana.
A customer walks past the pharmacy at a Walmart in Torrance, California.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A customer walks past the pharmacy at a Walmart in Torrance, California.

Walmart is partnering with health insurer Anthem to expand access to over-the-counter medications for seniors.

Starting in January, patients who are enrolled in Anthem's Medicare Advantage plans can use their insurance to cover some over-the-counter medications as well as other goods like first aid supplies and pain relievers at Walmart. The partnership allows patients to decrease their medical expenses and should help draw more shoppers to Walmart.

Currently, Anthem's Medicare Advantage members who pay extra for plans with an OTC benefit can buy those items through a catalog over the phone or online, or they can shop in stores, though not both. In partnering with Walmart, seniors can buy their items online or in stores.

"We believe that programs like this can make a tremendous difference for health-care consumers who often live on a fixed income or are managing chronic medical conditions," said Felicia Norwood, executive vice president and president of Anthem's government business division.

Roughly 250,000 of Anthem's Medicare Advantage members currently have the OTC benefit, an Anthem spokesman said. The partnership could help Walmart's budding e-commerce business or boost foot traffic to its stores.

Walmart currently offers a Medicare Advantage plan co-branded with Humana. It hosts wellness days at its stores and touts an exclusive line of diabetic supplies, branded ReliOn.

"Walmart is committed to making health care more affordable and accessible, and we are in constant pursuit of new ways to deliver on this commitment," said Sean Slovenski, Walmart's senior vice president of health and wellness.

Patients can still use their cards to shop at other retailers, though Anthem will be encouraging them to shop at Walmart.