Walgreens and HHS Work Together to Educate Medicare Beneficiaries about New Health Benefits

Walgreens and HHS Work Together to Educate Medicare Beneficiaries about New Health Benefits

<0> WalgreensMichael Polzin, 847-315-2920 </0>

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that HHS is working with Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (NASDAQ: WAG) and other pharmacies to help customers learn about new Medicare benefits available to them under the Affordable Care Act. Walgreens will provide Medicare beneficiaries a range of educational materials on newly available preventive services, as well as in the “donut hole” coverage gap.

“Walgreens and our other pharmacy partners are helping customers make informed health care decisions,” Secretary Sebelius said. “These partnerships will help people with Medicare learn more about new preventive services such as mammograms and the new annual wellness visit that are available at no charge for everyone with Medicare.”

Walgreens is working to increase awareness of preventive services available under Medicare by distributing information in nearly 8,000 pharmacies and more than 360 Take Care Clinic locations, as well as using in-store announcements and providing this information as part of its “Walgreens Way to Well Health Tour with AARP.”

Debbie Garza, Walgreens divisional vice president of government relations, said, “With a Walgreens pharmacy within three miles of nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population, we are well-positioned to not only inform Medicare beneficiaries of these new features, but also to provide access to these valuable health care services.”

Walgreens pharmacies offer an array of services to Medicare patients including direct billing to Medicare Part B and D, administration of Medicare covered immunizations and prescription drug plan reviews by Walgreens pharmacists to help patients pick a plan that best fits their medication needs.

In addition, all Take Care Clinics located at select Walgreens drugstores now provide the Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit and Medicare Yearly Wellness Visits. The Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visit and Medicare Yearly Wellness Visits are wellness services for Medicare enrollees which include screenings for a number of common conditions as well as education and counseling to encourage wellness and prevent disease.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) only 6.5 percent of eligible seniors have used their Medicare Wellness Visit benefit. The benefit is available upon enrollment and then once a year with no out-of-pocket costs. With accessible locations inside more than 360 Walgreens and convenient seven-day-a-week hours, Take Care Health can help remove barriers to health care access that may prevent Medicare enrollees from easily accessing care.

Take Care Clinics are professional health care centers located at more than 360 select Walgreens drugstores across the country which offer walk-in and appointment availability. Board-certified family nurse practitioners and physician assistants treat patients 18 months and older for common illnesses, offer preventive services such as vaccines and physicals and are licensed to write prescriptions, when necessary, that can be filled at the patient’s pharmacy of choice. Patients can visit to schedule an appointment and to view local and up-to-date information on patient satisfaction scores, market-specific quality of care scores, wait times and service costs.

As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2011 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens () vision is to become America’s first choice for health and daily living. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 7,919 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.