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Less than two weeks ago, Walmart announced that it was teaming with a company called Green Dot to offer low-cost checking accounts to anyone over the age of 18 who passes an identification check, with no fees for overdrafts or bounced checks and no minimum account balance.

Today, the Washington Post reports, Walmart announced that it is teaming with, described as "an online insurance comparison site and independent health insurance agency," to "allow customers to compare and enroll in health insurance plans in thousands of its stores … The program, known as Healthcare Begins Here, kicks off Oct. 10 and will run in stores through Dec. 7, closely tracking with the Medicare open-enrollment period and partially overlapping with the open enrollment period for federal health insurance exchanges. The company said it will monitor the success of the program and potentially bring it back next year."

The story notes that "Wal-Mart first began hosting agents from individual insurers in its stores in 2005. The newly announced offering expands on that, with the agents able to guide customers through thousands of plans from hundreds of carriers. Direct­ agents will receive a commission if they enroll an in-store customer in a health plan."

“Our goal is to be the number one health-care provider in the industry,” said Labeed Diab, president of health and wellness for Wal-Mart U.S. “And the more we broaden our assortment, the more we broaden our offering, the more we educate the customer Wal-Mart is a great place to create a one-stop shop.”
KC's View:
There are two things going on here. One is that Walmart needs to keep expanding its offerings in order to maintain its consumer relevance as a one-stop shop. And the other is that as retailers such as CVS and Walgreen begin to define themselves more clearly as being part of the health care system, and not just as HBC retailers, that creates a potential threat with which Walmart has to deal.