BC/BS of Minnesota eliminates co-pays for retail clinic visits
EAGAN, Minn. Looking to make it even easier for consumers to access cost-effective healthcare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is offering a new benefit option that eliminates co-pays for members who use retail-based clinics.
“Our members have made it clear that they appreciate the option of retail clinics. Blue Cross members in Minnesota made more than 40,000 visits to retail clinics in 2007, a nearly 100 percent increase over the previous year, and we expect this rapid growth to continue,” stated Shawn Patterson, vice president of marketing. “We created this new option because it helps hold health care costs down and is responsive to consumers’ wide acceptance of retail clinics.”
The option is available to most fully insured small and large group plans, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Blue Cross members who will benefit from lower out-of-pocket costs. It is the first health care plan in the state to offer this benefit.
Blue Cross found that the average cost of a retail clinic visit for typical services was about half the cost of a visit to a traditional medical clinic: $47 at a retail clinic versus $97 at a traditional clinic. Blue Cross estimates that employers and members saved more than $1.25 million in health care costs in 2007 by using retail clinics.
Those interested in a list of qualifying clinics can visit www.bluecrossmn.com and search for “retail clinics brochure.” Members may also call the toll-free number for customer service located on the back of their ID cards.
Los Angeles pharmacies report no quake damage
LOS ANGELES A 5.4 magnitude earthquake shook Los Angeles on Tuesday but caused no injuries or damage at area drug stores, though a few CVS stores were forced to shut down temporarily.
“A couple of our stores were closed temporarily to clean up merchandise that fell off the shelves during the quake,” said CVS director of public relations Mike DeAngelis. “But we haven’t received any reports of stores significantly damaged by today’s earthquake.”
As of 3:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday, none of the major area retailers including Walgreens, Rite-Aid and Longs Drug reported any damage to stores. The quake centered in the Chino Hills area outside Los Angeles caused some water mains to break but no major structural damage to bridges, buildings or roads.
Jewel-Osco launches pharmacy discount plan
MELROSE PARK, Ill. Jewel-Osco stores have launched an unprecedented tie-in between their pharmacies and supermarkets with the Prescription Plus program that offers discount coupons for frequent pharmacy purchases.
Jewel-Osco pharmacy customers will receive a 10 percent discount coupon for every five prescriptions they fill at any one of 184 Jewel-Osco stores in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. The coupons can be redeemed at the checkout stand for purchases made in the supermarket.
“Prescription Plus is Jewel-Osco Pharmacy’s way of responding to tough economic challenges many of our customers face today,” said Tom Rousonelos, vice president of Osco pharmacy operations. “Jewel-Osco aims to offer the most value-added pharmacy experience available.”
The plan will also count transferred prescriptions and refills toward the five prescriptions needed for the discount coupon. Supervalu indicated there are some restrictions on redeeming the coupons at checkout but was not specific.
In addition to prescriptions, the purchase of other services offered at Jewel-Osco pharmacies including immunizations and screenings will apply to Prescription Plus discounts.