DEERFIELD, Ill. — Against the backdrop of the shifting health insurance landscape, Walgreen Co. is covering employees through a private exchange.
The chain is sponsoring coverage for more than 160,000 employees next year through its proprietary “Live Well Benefits Store,” a marketplace outsourced through Aon Hewitt Corporate Health Exchange. The program provides more coverage choices and an opportunity for most employees to lower out-of-pocket costs.
It also allows Walgreens to continue offering health insurance and wellness benefits as the plan administrator, while providing tools and resources that help personalize coverage for employees and dependents.
Plan members will continue to get access to Walgreens Healthcare Clinics for a $5 co-pay.
“Under this new program, employees will have expanded choices to personalize their health care coverage in a competitive environment, giving our diverse workforce the flexibility they need to meet their health care needs,” said Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, the retailer’s senior vice president and chief human resources officer. “We will continue to invest in the health of our employees and their dependents while using a marketplace solution that offers a wide variety of plan options that meet the affordability standard of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
The new program continues Walgreens’ value-based pharmacy benefit for employees, which excludes prescriptions from plan deductibles.
“Our experience has been that this approach to pharmacy benefit design is the best way to improve medication adherence and lower overall health care costs,” said president of pharmacy, health and wellness Kermit Crawford.
Walgreens anticipates that many of its retirees who are under 65 and eligible for company health care benefits will see reductions in their premiums and more plan options. Medicare-eligible retirees will not see changes.
The new program also provides an opportunity for Walgreens retirees who weren’t previously eligible for health care benefits to participate in affordable plan options through the Live Well Benefits Store.
Working with Aon Hewitt, the marketplace will offer a wide array of benefit options and carriers for medical, dental, vision, pharmacy and other benefits coverage. Walgreens’ contribution toward the cost of health care benefits will be at the same level as this year, with employees choosing a personalized plan. Options include three high-deductible health plans, a PPO and an HMO-style plan.
The company says that with up to five carriers in each of 21 regions, enrollees’ premiums could be as low as $5 a month.