Buckeye Health Plan signs on with Walgreens' Health Corners

Buckeye Health Plan, an Ohio-based Medicaid insurer, is the third payer to sign on with Walgreens for its new Health Corners, the pharmacy giant announced on Tuesday.

The new partnership helps Walgreens Health achieve one of its key goals: reaching 2 million patients served. With Buckeye's membership added, the company will now reach 2.27 million people.

In addition, Walgreens is pushing for more Health Corner stores, with plans to nearly double its current 55 locations to about 100 by the end of this year. That includes five new locations in Ohio, Walgreens said.

Walgreens Health is "excited to be a force of good in healthcare and provide services that are going to reduce gaps in care in Ohio," John Do, interim president of Walgreens Health and chief financial officer, told Fierce Healthcare.

"Our partner strategy allows us to create a locally-focused, nationally-scaled business that provides personalized integrated care in the community," he said. "So we’re very, very excited about that."

The Health Corners are staffed by pharmacists and registered nurses and provide a range of services from screening to appointment scheduling to health advice. These locations can assist with managing chronic conditions, providing wellness checks and coordinating care between providers.

In northeast Ohio, these services will be available at no cost for Buckeye Health Plan members under the partnership, Walgreens said.

The Health Corners allow clinicians to provide highly localized and individualized care, Do said. In addition, they tap into the expertise of trusted providers, allowing them to practice at the top of their license.

The Health Corner partnership builds on an existing relationship between the Medicaid insurer and Walgreens, the company said. In 2021, the two teamed on a pilot program for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, in which Walgreens pharmacists provided information to patients on using their inhalers and reached out proactively to patients who were not adherent or at risk or becoming non-adherent.

Buckeye Health Plan was the first insurer in the state to reimburse pharmacists for such services. The partners plan to take the lessons from this pilot and apply them to programs targeting other disease states.