Walmart Reportedly in Early Talks to Buy Health Insurer Humana

Walmart Inc. is in early talks to acquire health insurer Humana Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported, a transaction that would pitch the retailer headlong into a rapidly changing industry whose surging costs and regulatory pressures have led to a series of megadeals.

The details of the discussions aren’t clear, and a deal may fall through, the Journal said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. Humana, valued at about $37 billion, would be Walmart’s largest deal on record. Walmart and Humana declined to comment to Bloomberg News.

Health-care spending accounted for about 18 percent of the U.S. economy last year, and continues to surge with an aging population, pricey medications and a complex regime of reimbursements and middlemen. Companies have been trying to address some of the market’s inefficiencies by getting bigger: Cigna Corp. is acquiring Express Scripts Holding Co. for $54 billion, and CVS Health Corp. is buying Aetna Inc. for $68 billion.

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SOURCE: Bloomberg, Zachary Tracer