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CVS/pharmacy announces return of its ‘free gas’ promotion

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Just in time for the kick off of this year’s Memorial Day weekend, CVS/pharmacy is bringing back its "Earn Free Gas" promotion, which allows ExtraCare members to earn free gas cards throughout the spring and summer by shopping for household essentials, health and beauty products, and snacks at store locations nationwide.

Last year, more than 1 million free gas cards were issued to shoppers who took advantage of the summer-long deal. This year, members of the CVS/pharmacy ExtraCare program can earn up to five $10 gift cards to Exxon/Mobil or Shell during select weeks from May through August by spending $30 on specially marked items found in the weekly CVS/pharmacy circular.

"At CVS/pharmacy, we are committed to finding ways to provide our customers with personalized value each time they shop. This year’s earn free gas promotion delivers on that promise and builds on the success and popularity of our program last year by giving customers an easy way to earn up to $50 in free gas while shopping for select essential items in our stores this summer," stated Judy Sansone, SVP merchandising for CVS/pharmacy.

Customers can find the qualifying products on the front and back pages of the weekly CVS/pharmacy circular beginning May 20, available in-store, online and on Facebook. All qualifying products will be specially marked with a "gas!" symbol to make them easily identifiable.

Once ExtraCare customers reach the $30 required purchase threshold, a special coupon will print on their receipt that can be redeemed immediately in store for a $10 gas card. If customers prefer to wait to redeem their coupon, they have up to 30 days to do so. There is a limit of five redemptions per week for each ExtraCare cardholder. The promotion will take place throughout the summer.

This is the latest example of how CVS/pharmacy is making it easy for customers to gain ExtraSavings and earn ExtraBucks Rewards through the ExtraCare program all year long. Most recently, CVS/pharmacy has given customers the option of sending their earned quarterly ExtraBucks Rewards and personalized ExtraCare email coupons to their cards directly for digital redemption, eliminating the need for any printing.

In addition, CVS/pharmacy introduced an updated mobile app — available as a free download from Apple’s App Store or through Google Play — that allows shoppers to store their ExtraCare card digitally in their smartphone, eliminating the need to carry a physical rewards card when shopping.

The CVS/pharmacy ExtraCare program is the largest retail savings and rewards program, with more than 69 million active cardholder households.

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Seniors overlooking preventive care

BY Antoinette Alexander

As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed last year under health reform, Medicare now offers preventive wellness visits to seniors enrolled in Medicare Part B and select Medicare Advantage plans. For eligible seniors, these wellness visits can prove to be an important step in preventive care; however, the rates of utilization are surprisingly low. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this represents an ideal opportunity for convenient care clinics.

Recognizing the integral role that retail-based health clinics play in improving health outcomes and reducing costs, several clinic operators are stepping up to the plate to drive awareness of the offering and bolster utilization.

“With Walgreens serving as a daily health and living destination for tens of millions of customers and patients, it makes perfect sense to use the Take Care Clinics to offer convenient access to preventive healthcare services. Preventive medicine can play an important role in improving health and wellness, and healthier patients means lower costs for individuals, families and payers,” said Heather Helle, divisional VP of Consumer Solutions Group for Take Care Health Systems.

Take Care Clinics announced in mid-April that it is now providing the Welcome to Medicare Preventative Visit and Medicare Yearly Wellness Visits at all of its 360-plus clinic locations throughout the country. Take Care Clinics is heavily promoting the new offering on its website, and Walgreens and Take Care Clinics are reaching eligible seniors through such tactics as grassroots activities in the markets served by Take Care Clinics.

MinuteClinic, which is owned by CVS Caremark, does not offer Welcome to Medicare Preventative Visits and Medicare Yearly Wellness Visits at this point in time; however, the clinic operator does work to drive awareness of services by providing educational materials to Medicare-eligible patients.

“We offer a range of preventive services to Medicare beneficiaries that aim to help people on their path to better health and reduce overall costs. In addition, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic provide educational materials to Medicare-eligible patients that include information about new preventive services and savings available for those affected by the Medicare Part D coverage gap,” stated Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic and SVP/associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark.

Driving awareness is key. Since January 2011, Medicare has offered the annual wellness visit, which is free for patients (i.e., no co-pays or deductibles). However, a national survey released in late April by the John A. Hartford Foundation found that 68% of older adults surveyed had not heard of the benefit or were not sure if they had heard of it. Only 17% said that they had received their annual wellness visit. In fact, the self-reported number may be overstated, as Medicare’s records suggest that uptake is only 6.5%.

The poll, conducted by national public opinion firm Lake Research Partners, surveyed 1,028 Americans ages 65 years and older between Feb. 29 and March 3, 2012.

Low awareness is clearly a factor in the high underutilization rate, but it is likely that a lack of access also is an obstacle. Not all physicians’ offices are providing the wellness visits.

“It’s tough for us to speculate on why the Medicare Yearly Wellness Visit benefit is not being widely utilized by eligible seniors, but with our accessible and convenient model, we believe we can play a role in helping Medicare members take advantage of the services that are available to them,” Helle said.

Upon completion of a Welcome to Medicare Preventative Visit or Medicare Yearly Wellness Visit at a Take Care Clinic, a Take Care Health Systems provider delivers a personalized wellness plan to the patient with clear explanations of findings and recommendations. A summary of the visit, with patient permission, also is shared with the patient’s primary care provider and health plan via the clinic’s electronic medical record system.

With more than 1,000 retail health clinics throughout the country, convenient hours of operation and high-quality care, the convenient care industry is ideally positioned to save Medicare dollars by improving and maintaining the health and well-being of seniors and, in turn, driving down costs.

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Heart disease, cancer lead fatalities in men 45+

BY Michael Johnsen

All men know: It’s not the fall that kills you; it’s that sudden stop at the end. Men smoke more (23.2% versus 18.1% of women), drink more (71.6% versus 59.6%) and eat more (40% overweight, 21.5% obese versus 28.6% and 17.6%, respectively). Men die sooner (before the age of 75 years versus age 80 years for women) and are less likely to seek health care on their own (25.3% of men have no usual source of health care versus 13.8% of women).

Men are full-throttle all-systems-go, until one day they’re not. Because it’s that sudden run-in with a heart attack or stroke, that sudden diagnosis of prostate or colon cancers, that slows them down.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men 45 to 55 years old, and men 75 years and older. (At ages 55 to 74 years, cancer is the leading cause of death among men.)

Click here for a statistical breakdown of the leading men’s health issues, the nutritional support with each disease state that may help promote better health and the nutritional deficiencies caused by common therapies.

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