For several weeks, every time I'm in my car, I've been hearing radio commercials from various pharmacies saying, "We still take Express Scripts." I've wondered what this was all about. Now I know.
It seems that Walgreens' contract with Express Scripts expired at the end of last year, and Walgreens and Express Script attempted to negotiate a new contract, but the negotiations were unsuccessful. As of Dec. 31, the contract expired, and, therefore, Walgreens is now excluded from Express Scripts' provider network. All Walgreens pharmacies and Duane Reade pharmacies in the New York City area are affected.
Having read Walgreens side of the story, I've seen that they negotiated in good faith with a genuine effort and desire to help their customers be able to have the lowest health care costs they could. Walgreens did not seek an increase in their reimbursement rates, but Express Scripts wanted to dictate all terms of the contract - including discouraging customers from taking advantage of Walgreens 90-day refills, in order to boost their own 90-refill mail program. Isn't it all the same? Well, no. Walgreens offers many 24-hour drive-thru and personal service with a community pharmacy - not an impersonal mail-order service. These differences matter.
If you're a loyal Walgreens customer and you see an Express Scripts logo on the back of your health insurance prescription card, then you are likely affected by this change. Take your card to your Walgreens pharmacist and find out.
You might be angered to find - as too many customers have - that your relationship you've valued with your pharmacist has been potentially damaged by the actions of a company that's seeking to maximize its own profits at the cost of your health care service. Express Scripts, which serves as a middle man between insurance companies and pharmacy providers, has seen its profits grow at more than twice the rate of its peers in the industry.
If you want to keep your relationship with your Walgreens pharmacist - or begin a new one - Walgreens is offering special rates to keep your prescription costs as low as possible with membership in their Walgreens Prescription Savings Club . For the month of January, the cost of an annual membership is only $5 for a single member and $10 to cover the whole family (you, your spouse, immediate family AND pets). The regular rate is $20 for a single or $35 for a family membership. The club provides savings on more than 8,000 brand-name and ALL generic prescriptions, as well as discounts on flu shots, pet medications, nebulizers and diabetic supplies.
Follow Walgreens on Twitter and "like" Walgreens on Facebook to keep up on all the news and see what Walgreens is doing to help save on your health care costs.