When a new Walgreens opened up in our neighborhood, I was excited to have 24-hour service for our pharmacy needs. With 2 toddlers we never know when we will need it.
Unfortunately, for the past year Walgreens and Express Script have been unable to come to an agreement in negotiations to continue in the pharmacy provider network and the contract expired on December 31st of 2011. Are you an Express Scripts member? This change includes all Walgreens pharmacies nationwide and Duane Reade pharmacies in the New York City area.
How will this affect you? Well, all Express Scripts members will be required to go to another pharmacy to have their in-network benefits. A new pharmacy, a new pharmacist and possibly a longer drive await these customers. For my family not being able to drop in to Walgreens means trying to fit a trip into a different store at an inconvenient time. When do family health needs happen at convenient times?
This wasn't about costs. Walgreens offered to keep the rate flat and did not seek to increase rates. Express Scripts themselves admitted that customers wouldn't see significant savings from this exclusion. Perhaps this is just in conflict with Express Scripts' mail order prescription business. I for one prefer the face to face care I can get from our local pharmacist.
Walgreens is trying to help their customers. They are offering a special discount on an an annual membership for the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club. During their January promotion, a family can sign up for just $10, or $5 for an individual. The family membership covers the immediate family (spouse, dependents age 22 or under and even pets) and provides savings for over 8,000 brand name and all generic prescriptions. Discounts are also offered for flu shots, diabetic supplies and more. The original membership is $35 for a family, or $20 for an individual.
Express Script is a middleman. They work between the pharmacies, like Walgreens, and the employers and health plans. Why not cut out the middleman since the rates at Walgreens are already competitive?