CVS Pharmacies To Promote Health Insurance Exchanges

ImageCVS Caremark, owner of the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., is about to throw its weight behind Obamacare by helping to enroll people in the nation’s new health care exchanges, which are expected to be open for enrollment October 1.

In late July, CVS officials announced that they plan to use pharmacies at their 7,400 North American stores to help the uninsured learn about new coverage options — especially the subsidized insurance coverage available to low-income people on state-based insurance exchanges.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to help Americans understand the new health care law and how it affects them, so consumers receive the coverage that best fits their families," said Helena Foulkes, CVS Caremark’s executive vice president and chief health care strategy and marketing officer.

CVS based its decision on a new survey indicating that, while there has been an overall increase in awareness of the Affordable Care Act, many of those eligible to enroll in the web-based health exchanges are asking for help.

Based on a nationwide sample of more than 1,000 respondents, the survey found that general awareness of the ACA has climbed to 74 percent from 57 percent in a similar survey conducted two years ago. But the latest survey also found that 36 percent of respondents who are likely to enroll in health exchanges need more information and help navigating the online marketplaces and selecting an appropriate insurance plan.

Significantly, the survey also found that “half of people who are eligible for a subsidy don’t know they’re eligible,” according to Foulkes, suggesting that concerns over cost could keep them from enrolling.

The survey also highlighted the role that pharmacies can play in meeting the needs of the uninsured. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they expected retail pharmacies to offer health insurance information both in their stores and online.

In order to help meet the demand for more information and guidance, Foulkes said CVS pharmacies would invite trained counselors or “navigators” into their stores to help people sign up for exchanges. The company also plans to promote the state-based exchanges at 375 health care fairs around the country, particularly in areas with high rates of uninsured people and large minority populations.

"Even among the 50 million Americans who were uninsured in the last year, most filled at least one prescription," said Foulkes. "Pharmacies hold the key to educating the public about their health care options."

CVS is not the first pharmacy chain planning to spread the word about the exchanges and the ACA. Walgreens recently announced a partnership with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association to promote the health care reform law.

ImageCVS Caremark, owner of the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., is about to throw its weight behind Obamacare by helping to enroll people in the nation’s new health care exchanges, which are expected to be open for enrollment October 1.

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