Monday, January 30, 2012

Walgreens Makes a Funny

Last time we looked, Walgreens was in the process of slitting its own wrist. The good news is, we recently received snail-mail [copy available here] from them detailing how we can help them retain their customer base.

The bad news is, of course, that I don't work for Walgreens.

In a particularly tone-deaf plea for assistance, we're told that "[o]pportunity for selling Small Group plans with an integrated pharmacy benefit can ensure your clients access to Walgreen's in 2012" [underline in original]

First, no employer really cares which pharmacies are included in any particular plan. They are concerned primarily with the prohibitively high cost of small group plans, and are looking for ways to reduce them. They're further challenged by the fact that small group plans are "off the rack;" that is, there is precious little customization available, and no carrier (to our knowledge) offers multiple pharmacy provider options. You get what's packaged.

But never fear, "Walgreen's has put together a comprehensive education program to reach patients who may be expressing concerns to their employers." Which is nice, but employers have also rolled out a comprehensive education program to reach their employees with such concerns: "this is our group plan. Feel free to sign this waiver if you don't like it."

Walgreeen CCO (Chief Client Officer) Joe Terrion provides us with handy "Talking points for Health Insurance Brokers;" these include the statement that "pharmacy access is an important consideration for small group." Um, not so much, Joe.

But -- and here's where I literally laughed out loud -- (Slow) Joe continues, groups "can easily switch to competitively priced health plans that provide access to a broad network of pharmacies, including Walgreens."


Here's a question, Mr T: what color is the sun in the sky above your planet? Because here, medical underwriting has tightened up, premiums have sharply increased while choices have sharply decreased, and employers are looking for ways to minimize the damage. I have yet to have any employer ask me about what pharmacies are included in any particular carrier's offerings.

No one but Walgreens cares, and as I pointed out at the beginning, I don't get paid to shill for them.
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