- (Reuters/Rick Wilking)
Walgreens, one of the largest drugstore chains in America, may be getting into the health insurance business. The company is expected to begin selling health insurance to the public at varying prices in the coming months.
The company has already been moving toward providing more health care options to the public, including flu shots, health care services for the workplace, and on-site remedies for customers.
Walgreens began offering family healthcare options in more than 350 stores through their “Take Care Clinics” – which offers treatment in everything from acne to bladder infections, and also give physicals and vaccinations – the chain is looking to be a “one-stop shop for all health care needs,” according to media reports.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires nearly everyone to have insurance by 2014, will establish state-based health insurance exchanges through which residents can purchase insurance from participating providers that meet the standards.
This is basically to help the rising number of uninsured and the underinsured in America.
One example of how Walgreens will make this work can be found in the private health insurance exchange that is already up and running at eHealthInsurance, which offers more than 10,000 insurance products online through partnerships with 180 health insurance companies.
Walgreens has not confirmed or denied the move to health coverage.
"We're looking at a number of options in light of healthcare reform as we continue to seek ways to help our customers better navigate today's health care system," Robert Elfinger, a media relations specialist at Walgreens, said in an email to MedPage Today.
Expected to be a billion-dollar company on the market, Walgreens is getting a head start in hopes of being the number one shop in health care coverage.
Many companies that were "formerly strangers to the health care plan field" are already strategizing ways to "muscle into" the exchange market, Brendon Nafziger of DOTmed News told CNN this week.
Many customers are choosing Walgreens clinics over their regular physicians because of the faster service, quality care, and lower costs.
Some satisfied consumers shared on Yelp:
“I just can’t say enough good things about this clinic. I had a case of strep throat and my doctor said she couldn’t see me for four days. I came in and saw the nurse practitioner here and she was great. She took time to answer all of my questions and I really felt better. I was in and out in about 40 minutes. They billed my insurance for me and all I paid was my $10 co-pay. This clinic is perfect for anyone who wants quality care and can’t wait for their primary doctor.” James A., Chicago IL.
“I went in to this Take Care Clinic before work one morning to get my flu short, and it was about as smooth and easy as a trip to a clinic could be. The staff was super friendly, and the examination room was sparkling clean. After signing in, I was called immediately in and given my shot, all in less than 10 minutes. The nurse... was really, really nice and seemed genuinely happy to be working there. I got to pay for my shot right there in the exam room, so I didn’t even have to get re-directed to the general pharmacy to wait in line. Seriously could not have had a better, easier flu shot experience.” Erin D., Atlanta, GA.
For more information about health care services at Walgreens visit http://news.walgreens.com/.