Potential Walmart-Humana Acquisition Highlights Retail’s Health Care Ambitions

Walmart is in preliminary talks to purchase health insurance company Humana, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. While specific terms of the deal are not known, it would be bound to transform the relationship between retail and health care, especially as insurance and drug costs continue to rise.

Over the past year, there has been plenty of activity to suggest that this a direction Walmart desires to take. CVS Health acquired Aetna, the third-largest health insurer in the U.S., for $69 billion excluding debt, in an effort to gain greater reach within the health care industry. The deal pushed millions of Aetna members toward CVS pharmacies, walk-in MinuteClinics and home services, while at the same seeking to deliver more transparency to the relationship between pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and drug manufacturers.

This new dynamic between the retail and health care industries has been kickstarted by various consolidation efforts. In early 2017, federal courts blocked two health insurance megamergers due to antitrust concerns: a $37 billion Aetna-Humana deal and a $48 billion Anthem-Cigna merger.

As these deals fell through, Aetna and Humana sought to pair up with companies outside their industry.With retailers such…