I don’t know about you but when I hear the word pharmacy or prescriptions the first name that comes to mind is Walgreens. For most consumers Walgreens is convenient and their pharmacy staff is friendly (when my dad passed away our local Walgreens sent us a sympathy card).
With health care plans dictating what doctors we can go to and where we have to go for tests one constant has always been our choice of Walgreens for our prescriptions but that’s not true anymore for those that have Express Scripts managing their prescriptions.
When it came time for a new contract between Walgreens and Express Scripts there was no negotiations as Express Scripts wanted to be the one to dictate the terms. Even though Walgreens offered to maintain their rates for a new contract and did not ask for an increase Express Scripts would not agree. They wanted to dictate what does and does not constitute a brand name and generic drug in addition to cutting Walgreens reimbursement rates to levels below industry average.
What does this mean if your health insurance provider has Express Scripts managing your prescriptions. It means you will be forced to go to a different pharmacy to benefit from their in-network pharmacy benefits. This may result in you having to drive farther to an in-network pharmacy and they may have less convenient hours and no drive-thru pharmacy. They might not be a part of a nationwide network so you can’t refill your prescription if you’re on vacation. For all your trouble your costs will not go down.
One of Express Scripts clients is Tricare which is the plan for our military men and women. During negotiations with Express Scripts Walgreens went further by guaranteeing that their prices would match or beat the average cost of all other pharmacies in the Tricare network. They did this to prevent military personnel from being caught in the middle. Walgreens even offered to contract separately for Tricare from other Express Scripts business but again Express Scripts refused.
Walgreens has a Prescription Savings Club with the following benefits:
- Savings on more than 8,000 brand name and all generic medications. Walgreens has more than 400 generic’s available with a three-month supply for less than $1 a week Walgreens has more than 400 generic’s available with a three-month supply for less than $1 a week.
- Discounts on flu shots, pet prescriptions, nebulizers and diabetic supplies
- Bonuses when you purchase Walgreens brand products and photofinishing services
The Prescription Savings Club at Walgreensis open to everyone for a membership fee of $20 for an individual or $35 for a family. In an attempt to make the transition smoother for their Express Scripts customers Walgreens unveiled a national effort to help patients continue to use Walgreens or if they’re forced to leave Walgreens to use their in-network coverage. If your insurance plan is managed by Express Scripts Walgreens is offering a special discount on the annual membership. During a special January promotion for only $5 for individual or $10 for a family membership.
If this upsets you as much as it does me then contact your local media and let them know.