A new twist on preventative care at Walmart

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is partnering with health insurer Humana to encourage people to eat better by offering savings on healthful food.

The program continues an effort the retailer initiated in January 2011, when it committed to support first lady Michelle Obama’s drive to make healthier food affordable and accessible.

Some leading drug chains have also expanded their fresh food offerings, particularly in urban neighborhoods underserved by traditional food stores. Walgreen Co., for example, has added fresh produce to its assortment and has vowed to make healthful food available to residents of urban food deserts.

The Walmart-Humana initiative, which is dubbed “Vitality HealthyFood” kicks off on October 15 at all of Walmart’s 3,900-plus stores in the United States. More than 1 million members of the Humana subsidiary HumanaVitality who shop at Walmart will be eligible for savings of 5% on about 1,300 products.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and low-fat dairy are among the categories included.
HumanaVitality members who choose to accept the company’s terms and conditions and take a health assessment will receive a “Vitality HealthyFood” card that will enable them to receive 5% savings on food items that qualify for Walmart’s “Great For You” icon. The savings are applied as credits to each member’s card within five business days for use on their next shopping trip.

According to Humana, a recent survey of its members showed that 84% would be motivated to buy more healthful food if a savings program was available. A study released in December 2011 indicates that one in four American families report skipping healthful food purchases often or always due to price.

The Walmart-Humana announcement followed by two days the release of a study that predicts half of the adults in the United States will be obese by 2030 unless they change their behavior.

A separate study that was conducted by Cornell University earlier this year estimated that obesity now accounts for nearly 21% of U.S. health care costs.

“Price is an important factor in incentivizing wellness in America,” says John Agwunobi, president of health and wellness for the Walmart U.S. division.

“By offering affordable, healthier foods, we will help make our customers healthier and reduce costs to our health care system as a whole. This represents preventative care in its purest form.”


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