Walgreens has handled the needs of newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act without problem, said Kermit Crawford, the company’s president of pharmacy, health and wellness.


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Walgreens stores will be ‘magnets’ for the newly insured

January 20th, 2014

CHICAGO – Walgreens has handled the needs of newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act without problem, said Kermit Crawford, the company’s president of pharmacy, health and wellness.

“It’s been fairly smooth,” he said of the chain’s service to new policy holders. “It certainly hasn’t created a lot of issues in our stores.”

The stores were well prepared for the demand with most employees trained for the influx of newly covered patients, Crawford told reporters after the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

Walgreens’ promise of no up-front costs for the first 30 days for ACA insurance recipients who haven’t received a plan identification number “made it a lot easier for those patients to get their medications,” he noted.

Over the long term, the law will benefit Walgreens, Craword said. “When you think about where our stores are located, 65% serve medically underserved areas,” he said, pointing out that 75% of African Americans and 78% of Hispanics live within three miles of a Walgreens outlet.

That, he noted, will make the stores magnets for the people getting subsidized health insurance under the law.

And Walgreens’ Healthcare Clinics can provide chronic care treatment for diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and asthma, which disproportionately afflict lower-income Americans. “We feel we’re well positioned to provide convenient access to quality care,” Crawford said.

Walgreens is ramping up growth of clinics, he pointed out, citing the planned rollout of 100 this year. In opening clinics, he noted, the company seeks partnerships with local health care centers.

Asked about Walgreens’ recapture of business lost during its contract dispute with Express Scripts, he said the chain is thriving from a total prescription volume perspective. In its last quarter the chain increased its retail prescription market share by 50 basis points to 19.4%.

Its reconciliation with Express Scripts is so complete that Walgreens’ new Smart90 — a joint venture with its former adversary — is expected to be a significant business driver.
Under Smart90, plan sponsors that choose to include Walgreens as part of the their pharmacy network let members get 90-day supplies of maintenance medications through home delivery from Express Scripts or directly at a Walgreens retail pharmacy for the same co-payment.

Said Crawford, “People will pay for convenience.”

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