Amazon Pharmacy inks deal with Florida Blue for home drug delivery

Amazon Pharmacy has inked a deal with another Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan as it works to carve out a piece of the retail pharmacy market.

Starting next year, Florida Blue will use Amazon Pharmacy as its exclusive home delivery service provider for its more than 2 million members covered under individual and employer group-insured plans. Earlier this year, Florida Blue also began making the service available to self-insured employers, according to a press release.

At the ViVE 2022 digital health conference in March, Amazon Pharmacy announced it was partnering with Blues plans in five states and Prime Therapeutics to launch a prescription discount savings card for some Blue Plans members.

Prime Therapeutics' MedsYourWay discount card, administered by InsideRx, offers an ordering and delivery experience through Amazon Pharmacy that enables customers to apply purchases for eligible medications to the out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles associated with their insurance plan.

The Blues plans that signed on for that drug discount coupon program include Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Florida Blue, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Many of those Blues plans have also inked home delivery contracts with Amazon's pharmacy arm, according to information on their websites.

Centene's Wellcare announced that Amazon Pharmacy will become its preferred retail pharmacy for its 1.5 million Medicare Advantage members starting next year.

"Florida Blue hopes the savings and the familiarity of ordering through Amazon will make it easier for our members to get their daily medications and better manage their health," said Chuck Divita, Florida Blue executive vice president of commercial markets, in a statement. "Medication adherence is a major factor in the health and well-being of Floridians."

Amazon shook up the retail drugstore market when it acquired PillPack in 2018 and then again when it rolled out Amazon Pharmacy in 2020. The online retail giant has been rapidly expanding its reach in the healthcare space, most notably with its recent deal to buy One Medical for $3.9 billion.

Florida Blue executives said the Amazon Pharmacy shopping experience includes transparent, real-time pricing information and allows members to compare and choose the option that works best for their needs—either their insurance copay price or the price from the Prime Therapeutics MedsYourWay discount. All covered and eligible drug purchases, whether using the copay or discount card pricing, may count toward out-of-pocket maximums and deductibles, the insurer said.

As many as one-third of prescriptions are never filled. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine estimates that a lack of drug adherence causes nearly 125,000 deaths and 10% of hospitalizations a year, while potentially costing the healthcare system as much as $289 billion annually. 

"Each year more than $500 billion is spent on avoidable health care costs in the U.S. due to individuals not taking their medications properly—often due to lack of access or affordability," Divita said, noting that home delivery provides members with a cost-effective and simplified way to get medications.