HHS partners with nation’s largest pharmacies to promote Health Insurance Marketplace
Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced today that HHS is collaborating with the nation’s largest pharmacies to encourage enrollment through the Health Insurance Marketplace at thousands of locations across the country. Ahold USA Companies, Bi-Lo Holdings, CVS Health, H-E-B, Kroger, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart are playing an important role in providing information about the Health Insurance Marketplace to people across the country.
“Pharmacies and pharmacists are a trusted source of information for consumers who have health related questions, and they can provide information directly to consumers looking for quality and affordable health coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace,” Secretary Burwell said. “These collaborations are integral to getting information directly to consumers from trusted health care providers in their communities.”
Pharmacists have been trained to answer basic questions about the Marketplace, and they know where to direct customers for enrollment assistance through HealthCare.gov, the call center, or through local in-person assistance. Special brochures, signage, circular advertisements, and other marketing materials have been and will be on display in many stores, providing consumers with information on health insurance and how to get enrolled. Many pharmacies have webpages dedicated to the Affordable Care Act and health insurance information. Pharmacy-based enrollment events are planned across the country and some pharmacies will have assisters available in stores to help enroll customers.
Among the activities taking place at pharmacies across the country:
Ahold USA retail brands include Stop & Shop, Giant of Maryland and GIANT/MARTIN’S, which operate more than 560 pharmacies in nearly 770 supermarkets in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. All pharmacists have received information regarding open enrollment and how to direct customers to resources for enrollment assistance. Links to HealthCare.gov are available on pharmacy webpages.In addition, Giant pharmacies in Maryland and Stop & Shop pharmacies in New York are partnering with State-Based Marketplace exchanges to further assist customers.
Bi-Lo Holdings, LLC
At Bi-Lo Holdings properties, BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie, all pharmacists are notified of the Medicare.gov website on the Bi-Lo Holdings portal, as well as of the Healthcare.gov website, and a number of the pharmacists have iPads which are used by the pharmacists to provide instant access of the plan options for interested patients. The pharmacy locations were chosen based on patient age and economic demographics.
Additionally, representatives of insurance plans are present in over 200 BI-LO and Winn Dixie stores in South Carolina and in Florida to discuss prescription program options under ACA, and health seminars are being scheduled with insurers in their offsite facilities to discuss medical conditions, as well as Affordable Care Act prescription plan options.
CVS Health is partnering with numerous health insurers offering coverage on the Marketplace to conduct more than 5,300 health insurance education events in CVS/pharmacy stores across the country between November 2014 and February 2015, providing customers the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with insurance experts about the options available to them on the Marketplace. Consumers can find a schedule of in-store Marketplace information events with health plans at CVS.com/MarketplaceEvents. The outreach campaign also involves in-store brochure displays. CVS/pharmacy stores across the country will have free educational brochures, provided by CVS/pharmacy and numerous health plans, on hand for customers, including Spanish-language materials in select locations. Customers can also access online Marketplace insurance information and tools at CVS.com/insurance and in Spanish at CVS.com/seguro.
CVS/pharmacy offers an in-store option to pay monthly insurance bill using cash or a credit or debit card. Bill Pay at CVS/pharmacyis a service aimed at making it easier for newly-insured people, including those who may not have a checking account, to maintain their health insurance by providing a convenient method of paying their monthly insurance bill at any of the 7,800 CVS/pharmacy locations across the U.S. CVS/pharmacy is the first national retail pharmacy to offer this service. Members of health plans that participate in Bill Pay at CVS/pharmacy will receive their monthly premium bills featuring a customer-specific barcode and instructions on how it may be used to pay their premium. CVS will simply scan the barcode and collect the member’s desired payment without any additional fee for this service.
CVS Health is also partnering with State-Based Marketplaces. For example, the New York State Department of Health and CVS/pharmacy have partnered to educate and promote the many health insurance options available to New Yorkers through the NYSOH Marketplace, as part of the multi-pronged outreach campaign. CVS/pharmacy has similar partnerships with Covered California and MNSure.
H-E-B are holding education and enrollment efforts during the winter season in many of its stores/pharmacies and provide educational materials and signage to customers to promote access. Each of these stores are host insurance agents approximately two days per week in addition to ongoing patient interaction about the Affordable Care Act with their Pharmacy Teams. H-E-B is also providing open enrollment information at diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure screening events in all its pharmacies. H-E-B is also active in administering immunizations and uses those opportunities to educate customers on the Affordable Care Act.
Marketplace materials have been placed in all stores and pharmacy associates are available to assist customers with questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace. Kroger maintains a Health Insurance Marketplace landing page on its website to assist customers and provide a destination for them to review and enroll in Marketplace plans. Kroger is also providing open enrollment information on its health assessment kiosks installed in every pharmacy, which offer free screenings of key health vitals, like blood pressure, weight, BMI, and more.
Since Nov. 15 and through Feb. 15, 2015, Rite Aid has made independent, licensed insurance agents available to customers through a dedicated, toll free number. Agents are able to provide free consultations and answer customer questions on the Affordable Care Act. The agents are also able to help customers compare health care plans based on individual needs, and will be able to advise customers on Medicaid eligibility in applicable states. Customers are able to enroll in a plan over the phone if they choose. All Rite Aid stores have brochures with information on the Affordable Care Act and information is also offered on www.riteaid.com/affordablecare.
Walgreens is helping to educate consumers about the Health Insurance Marketplace through various channels, including national digital advertising, the Walgreens website (walgreens.com/healthinsurance) and in-store materials across all of its more than 8,200 locations nationwide.
Walgreens stores in select states will also have more customized consumer education efforts that include specially trained health and wellness guides, as well as flyers, automated print-outs and other materials available in both Spanish and English languages. The health and wellness guides, stationed in select stores, have been trained to answer questions and provide Marketplace-related information to customers.
Walgreens is providing informational materials to customers without insurance coverage for their prescriptions, and is also distributing materials through its Wellness Tour buses, which are planned to run through the end of the month, as many of these customers may be eligible for health insurance offered through the Marketplace.
The company is again working with GoHealth, a web-based, licensed insurance broker that can answer questions, offer one-on-one assistance, and provide access to the Marketplace for customers looking to enroll in or shop for health insurance.
Since 2005, Walmart has hosted agents from individual insurers in stores to answer questions and enroll customers in specific healthcare plans. This year, in an effort to bring transparency and simplicity to the changing health insurance market, Walmart launched Healthcare Begins Here, an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options. In addition to providing information on www.walmart.com, pharmacists will also provide assistance in verifying enrollment and will be available to help answer questions about the new insurance plans. Simple, easy to understand educational materials will be available for customers in English and Spanish languages at all pharmacies.