Walgreens woos payers with ‘Complete Care’

2/9/2009

DEERFIELD, Ill. —It will be the first “transparent” nationwide pharmacy, health-and-wellness alternative available to employers, showing them the true costs of the health services they sponsor for their workers and dependents. It will leverage all of Walgreens’ pharmacy and health service assets. And it will save health plan sponsors money.

Those are the promises Walgreens is making to employer-sponsored health plans with the Jan. 14 launch of Complete Care and Well-Being, an “employer-centric” pharmacy, health-and-wellness program.

The new business model, said Walgreens, is “designed to reduce healthcare and prescription costs for employers across the country.” To do so, Complete Care will make prices for prescriptions and other health services transparent to employers.

More fundamentally, the program will improve patient care while attacking costs and redundancies by integrating Walgreens’ worksite health centers, in-store clinics and pharmacies with discount drug pricing, the company noted.

“Complete Care and Well-Being is a new and unique approach to health care that brings together pharmacy, health and wellness services under a single program, with all prices transparent to the employer,” Walgreens announced.

Complete Care is offered through Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems subsidiary, a national provider of worksite health-and-wellness centers and in-store clinics.

“Complete Care and Well-Being can be a single-source offering, using Walgreens’ pharmacy administration capabilities, or can be integrated with an existing pharmacy and healthcare benefit provider,” explained newly promoted Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “The prescription pricing component allows companies that use a pharmacy benefit manager to continue doing so while taking advantage of all that we can offer. Insurers and managed care organizations also can offer more value in their own networks by capitalizing on the depth of our program and its nationwide availability of services.”

Added Hal Rosenbluth, SVP and president of Walgreens’ health and wellness division, “We want to bring employees a holistic, transparent approach to mitigating the trend of escalating healthcare and prescription drug costs. Employers, managed care organizations and insurers have been seeking more easily understood pricing for prescription drugs and healthcare services for some time now, and Walgreens is delivering on that request.”

The program’s foundation is the company’s more than 680 walk-in clinics—including the pharmacy and health centers located on employer campuses or manufacturing plants and Take Care’s in-store retail clinics—along with Walgreens’ more than 6,600 retail and specialty pharmacies. “By combining these employer on-site centers and in-store clinics with Walgreens drug stores, employers can offer workers, their dependents and retirees a comprehensive and integrated healthcare solution,” noted the company. “Beneficiaries will have access to Walgreens’ 66,000 healthcare professionals located at more than 6,600 pharmacies and nearly 700 worksite health centers and in-store clinics, the most under one company.”

Complete Care and Well-Being will combine all those strengths. The result will be an “unmatched level of integrated care” that Walgreens said “will produce opportunities for more interaction among clinicians and patients and increased patient compliance.

“It also will provide greater patient satisfaction and lower employer healthcare costs,” the company asserted, by giving Walgreens “a holistic approach to develop stronger partnerships with managed care organizations and payers across the country to create better health outcomes for patients and payers alike.”

Wasson explained the strategy. “Over the past two years, we built and assembled the services necessary to offer a unique solution to rising pharmacy and healthcare costs,” he said. “Unlike most healthcare reform options… Complete Care…will address both controlling costs and improving access to quality care. It also delivers on the promise of reform in a way that sets us apart from other solutions and provides value for employers and payers of all types.”

In addition, Complete Care is offering a 15% savings to patients themselves on all Walgreens brand store products.

In an exclusive interview, Wasson described the response thus far from employers as enthusiastic. “The employer interest first of all to the on-site services themselves, and more recently to our announcement of Complete Care and Well-Being, has been incredible,” he said. “Large employers, as we all know, are not going to wait for healthcare reform. We’re all looking at ways to reduce costs and still attract employees, and I think there’s a lot of interest in being able to offer health-and-wellness services and pharmacy services on the campus, and being able to design a benefit that links those services to our retail clinics and pharmacies within the community—and to provide a complete, integrated network.”

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