Insurers ease pharmacy vaccine process

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash., and PORTLAND, Ore. Two health insurers in the northwest are taking steps to change the dynamics of preventive health reimbursement and broaden the role pharmacies play in flu vaccination efforts.


The two plans, Premera Blue Cross of Washington state and LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, have announced new programs that both plans said will “remove barriers to care by providing improved access to common immunizations at pharmacies.”



In both cases, patients enrolled in either coverage plan can now simply present their membership card at a pharmacy to receive a vaccination. Both plans said they will cover immunizations for vaccines for seasonal flu, adult shingles or pneumococcal infections at discounted pricing through pharmacies.



“We want members to have convenient access to important, preventive immunizations,” said Ed Wong, who serves as VP pharmacy services for both plans. “Immunizations administered at pharmacies used to require members to pay the cost in full, and then fill out a paper claim for reimbursement. That meant more work for our members to be reimbursed.”



Among the pharmacies participating in one or both coverage networks are Bartell Drugs, Walgreens, Costco, Target, Rite Aid, Safeway, Fred Meyer and CVS pharmacies, according to Wong.



Both Premera and LifeWise are members of a group of companies based in Mountlake Terrace that provides health, life, vision, dental and other related products and services to more than 1.5 million patients.


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