Walmart is reportedly in early talks to acquire health insurance company Humana, a move that could have huge implications for the retail giant while representing the latest major deal involving health care services.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday citing sources close to the talks that the companies are in the very early stages of a possible deal and have yet to agree on a price for Humana, which is currently valued at about $37 billion.
News of the possible deal sent shares of Humana climbing by nearly 12 percentage points late Thursday, according to a CNBC report.
Walmart's reported talks with Humana come just weeks after shareholders at CVS overwhelmingly approved a deal to buy Aetna, another major health insurer.
That $69 billion deal is set to "reshape" the American health care industry, CVS's president Larry Merlo said in a statement.
"When this merger is complete, the combined company will be well-positioned to reshape the consumer health care experience, putting people at the center of health care delivery to ensure they have access to high-quality, more affordable care where they are, when they need it," Merlo said.
Aetna's CEO Mark Bertolini announced this week that savings caused by that deal would be passed directly to consumers.
“We have always believed that consumers should benefit from discounts and rebates that we negotiate with drug manufacturers,” he said in a statement. “Going forward, we hope this additional transparency will encourage these companies to rationalize their pricing and end the practice of annual double-digit price increases.”
Other companies are seeking entry into the industry as well. Earlier this year, Amazon announced it was partnering with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase on a health care venture aimed at "reducing costs" for consumers.