ORLANDO, Fla. — As she tours the nation to help people grasp new health insurance benefits from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is highlighting the role played by pharmacies.
In a visit this month to a CVS/pharmacy here, the HHS chief helped CVS Caremark Corp. president and chief executive officer Larry Merlo unveil an information and outreach program that includes events and brochure displays at over 7,500 CVS stores and 650 MinuteClinics. Information is also available online at CVS.com/insurance.
“Americans trust their pharmacists for tell-it-like-it-is advice about their health, and pharmacies like CVS have a special role in these efforts,” Sebelius said. “We thank CVS Caremark and CVS stores nationwide for their commitment to providing Americans with the information they need about the Health Insurance Marketplace.”
Plans call for CVS to host about 5,000 in-store events with health insurance experts, including representatives of state exchanges and local health plans. And through the fall, representatives from Get Covered America will be at CVS/pharmacy’s Project Health free health screening events.
“Providing information about new health insurance coverage opportunities is in keeping with our purpose of helping people on their path to better health,” stated Merlo, who led Sebelius on a tour of the Orlando store. “Over the coming months, our pharmacists and stores will be serving a key role in providing a point of activation for customers to learn more.”
The six-month enrollment period for the ACA’s new Health Insurance Marketplace begins this week. A recent CVS survey found that pharmacies will be a key destination for uninsured Americans, with 68% of respondents expecting pharmacies to offer health insurance information in stores and/or online. Among those asking for help, Hispanics and young adults (ages 18 to 35) were much more likely to say they need help understanding the exchanges.
“Pharmacies across America are stepping up to help you understand and get ready for the Health Insurance Marketplace. And I want to say thank you,” Sebelius wrote in a September 9 blog posting on the HHS.gov/healthcare website.
“Companies such as Thrifty White Pharmacy, Bi-Lo Pharmacy, Winn-Dixie Pharmacy, SoloHealth, StayHealthy and CVS are willing to help out because they know that quality, affordable health coverage is important,” she said. The blog also cited her September visit to a Rite Aid store in New Jersey as an example of how pharmacies are helping consumers assess their health benefits.