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Walgreens to sell health insurance
Old 08-10-2011, 06:04 PM   #1
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Walgreens to sell health insurance

Interesting piece of news for those who would like to buy a cheap health insurance :

Walgreens will soon sell you health insurance - Aug. 9, 2011
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:49 PM   #2
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I can only imagine the type of people that would buy health insurance at Walgreen's....if it's so easy to sell, why aren't they selling Medicare supplements and MA plans already? This will go belly-up quickly IMO...
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Old 08-11-2011, 12:20 AM   #3
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I suspect it may be that you get primary care only thru their clinics. I.E. no choice of physician, and a need for a referral to see a specialist. We do know from the HMO experience that this does control costs, but folks did not like it.
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:49 AM   #4
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Read the article.

It appears that they are just going to be a sales outlet for certain insurance companies... I did not see (in the article) where they were intending to provide care.


Quote:
By partnering with some of the nation's largest health insurers, selling health insurance is a natural next step in Walgreens' evolution into becoming a one-stop shop for all health care needs.

Consumers will be able to shop for a mix of insurance products online, through call centers or in-store. Some will be branded by national insurers and others will be "private label" insurance products sold through Walgreens' insurance exchange.
It probably means the cashier points the customer to a kiosk to punch in their order.... or help them do it if they cannot figure it out.

If you think about it, there are many people who will have access to insurance that have not in the past... they will show up at the pharmacy one day needing to fill a prescription. Walgreens will do two things... get the prescription paid and get a fee from the insurance company.

I expect that many of the larger outlets of healthcare products and services will have a computer kiosk to help people signup (and get the healthcare provider paid). To them it is a business!


The concern (IMO) would be the introduction of a fee to signup someone (if that is what is going to happen). It could (and probably will) lead to abuse... and higher costs. An example would be some outlet signing people up for really expensive plans that would not have any takers otherwise (if they were paying out of pocket). So a high cost insurer essentially excludes other lower cost insurers by getting an exclusive deal to swing business their way.
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:56 AM   #5
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Being a dedicated LBYM ER-wannabe, I just have to know - will there be a coupon in the Sunday paper?
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:03 AM   #6
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- will there be a coupon in the Sunday paper?
<rimshot!>
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:17 AM   #7
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My SO is turning 65 so I have spent a lot of time investigating all the Medicare supplements & medicare advantage plans .The advantage plans are medicare plans that are run by insurance companies . They offer better benefits and are more widely accepted than plain medicare . I have come to the conclusion that anybody could run a health care program better than the government . Sad to say!
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:22 AM   #8
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I like that Walgreen's is getting ready for health care reform. More competition for our insurance dollars from an unexpected source can't be bad.
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:23 AM   #9
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Italains have about 3 more years of lifespan than we do, and spend about 7% of their GDP on health care compared to our 15%. There are reasons for this:

You don't always get a private room in a hospital. Sometimes you share it with another person, maybe two.
The first line of defense is the pharmacist, not the doctor. Much cheaper!
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Old 08-11-2011, 11:52 AM   #10
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Read the article.
Good heavens, what are you expecting from us?

We pontificate, not study.

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Old 08-11-2011, 12:30 PM   #11
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I really hate to burst your bubble, but . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
Read the article.

It appears that they are just going to be a sales outlet for certain insurance companies... I did not see (in the article) where they were intending to provide care.

It probably means the cashier points the customer to a kiosk to punch in their order.... or help them do it if they cannot figure it out.

If you think about it, there are many people who will have access to insurance that have not in the past... they will show up at the pharmacy one day needing to fill a prescription. Walgreens will do two things... get the prescription paid and get a fee from the insurance company.
You are implying that Walgreens' actually gets paid for the cost of the drug. They do not. They get paid a dispensing fee for drugs purchased by Pharmacy Benefit managers who pay the drug manufacturers. Walgreens does own a PBM (Pharmacy Benefit Manager), but their pharmacies only income from insurance claims is the cost of dispensing the drug <$2 per script, or charging the full price for those people who have no drug coverage available. It's all volume to them.

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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
I expect that many of the larger outlets of healthcare products and services will have a computer kiosk to help people signup (and get the healthcare provider paid). To them it is a business!
This is a recipe for disaster. To be available for instant coverage, as you imply, leads to fraud.

Insurance companies who work with states to provide coverage to the poor (above Medicaid poverty level) have found themselves in a significant losing situation because the beneficiaries add and drop plans when they need coverage. Who pays when an insurance company loses millions due to this kind of instant coverage? You do in your private employers' health plan costs, no retirement benefits, or perhaps lower salaries than market because your employer has to cut costs to provide you with health insurance coverage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
The concern (IMO) would be the introduction of a fee to signup someone (if that is what is going to happen). It could (and probably will) lead to abuse... and higher costs. An example would be some outlet signing people up for really expensive plans that would not have any takers otherwise (if they were paying out of pocket). So a high cost insurer essentially excludes other lower cost insurers by getting an exclusive deal to swing business their way.
It's called a commission. Insurance agents collect one every time they sign up a customer. Unethical agents will do what you imply; companies do not knowingly provide commission schedules that induce fraud and state insurance commissioners will not allow them to operate in their state if they do.
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Old 08-11-2011, 01:50 PM   #12
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I think you are reading more into my comment than it was intended to convey.


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Originally Posted by Gotadimple View Post
I really hate to burst your bubble, but . . .



You are implying that Walgreens' actually gets paid for the cost of the drug. They do not. They get paid a dispensing fee for drugs purchased by Pharmacy Benefit managers who pay the drug manufacturers. Walgreens does own a PBM (Pharmacy Benefit Manager), but their pharmacies only income from insurance claims is the cost of dispensing the drug <$2 per script, or charging the full price for those people who have no drug coverage available. It's all volume to them.

You can't bust my bubble.... I don't have one.

I reread my post. Still don't see a comment on that topic... implied or otherwise. Unless you are interpreting "getting the prescription paid" as implying profit.

My meaning... if product goes out the door with one of their customers, I am sure they will want paid for it.... if a customer is not enrolled and can't pay, they have a plan to get the person covered and therefore paid. That is about it.

But that is not the part I would be concerned with... it is the other issue.

How their model works how the account for a particular store's profitability. Frankly, I wasn't thinking about that part of it. It wasn't the point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotadimple View Post
This is a recipe for disaster. To be available for instant coverage, as you imply, leads to fraud.

Insurance companies who work with states to provide coverage to the poor (above Medicaid poverty level) have found themselves in a significant losing situation because the beneficiaries add and drop plans when they need coverage. Who pays when an insurance company loses millions due to this kind of instant coverage? You do in your private employers' health plan costs, no retirement benefits, or perhaps lower salaries than market because your employer has to cut costs to provide you with health insurance coverage.
I am not implying anything about fraud....


Just speculation on how it might work. They would call it a marketing program through a sales channel BTW.

If I remember correctly, one of the key aspects of that legislation to try to keep costs low. Self service is currently the lowest cost approach. Just above that is a call center with people pooled in a central location.

I would expect (hope) that people would have to do to verify who they are, information about them to prove eligibility. Especially to prove eligibility for that tax credit.

Look at how medicare part d coverage is provided. From what I saw with my mother it was all done online and over the phone. No face to face interaction with an agent... a little with a call center of a few items.


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Originally Posted by Gotadimple View Post
It's called a commission. Insurance agents collect one every time they sign up a customer. Unethical agents will do what you imply; companies do not knowingly provide commission schedules that induce fraud and state insurance commissioners will not allow them to operate in their state if they do.
Yes states require a licensed agent to sell insurance... I don't think it has changed.

Not sure how the detail of the program (those health insurance exchanges) and the qualification for a tax credit will work yet. But, I kinda assumed for the insurer choice it would be a direct model (online or order info or application over the phone) and call if you have questions oriented... to keep costs down. That seems to be the way medicare part D works....

However, those exchanges have not been implemented yet (and could be a little different for each state... since the states are implementing them)... and more specifically how walgreens and their partner insurance companies might implement that program.... for that matter what the Walgreens program even is... was pure speculation.



You're gettin' mighty wound up about it. Do you work for Walgreens?




My concern... in a nutshell is cost. Since taxpayers will be footing the bill for those that can't pay the full freight.... I would prefer the overall program to be devoid of marketing... note: I am not talking about providing information... I am talking about a sales job to convince someone to buy a specific product from a specific company where they profit by the sale... or the exclusion of other providers (thereby reducing competition). Clear enough?


But it is unclear what it is... I suppose we will see soon enough.
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:10 PM   #13
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My SO is turning 65 so I have spent a lot of time investigating all the Medicare supplements & medicare advantage plans .The advantage plans are medicare plans that are run by insurance companies . They offer better benefits and are more widely accepted than plain medicare . I have come to the conclusion that anybody could run a health care program better than the government . Sad to say!
I'm not extremely familiar with Medicare Advantage plans but I thought you had to give up some control versus traditional Medicare. For example, with traditional Medicare, aren't I covered (to the extent of the coverage) for any provider I go to see. With Medicare Advantage, don't I have to get "approval" to go see this doc or that doc, i.e. more like an HMO with my primary care physician running the show (which is not always a bad thing)?

I thought I read a story in our local paper about Medicare Advantage members who were frustrated they couldn't get the care they thought they should get because it wasn't "approved." For example, I want to make an appointmnet with a neurologist for some issue but my primary care doctor doesn't agree so the neurologist's fee wouldn't be covered.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:21 PM   #14
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I'm not extremely familiar with Medicare Advantage plans but I thought you had to give up some control versus traditional Medicare. For example, with traditional Medicare, aren't I covered (to the extent of the coverage) for any provider I go to see. With Medicare Advantage, don't I have to get "approval" to go see this doc or that doc, i.e. more like an HMO with my primary care physician running the show (which is not always a bad thing)?

I thought I read a story in our local paper about Medicare Advantage members who were frustrated they couldn't get the care they thought they should get because it wasn't "approved." For example, I want to make an appointmnet with a neurologist for some issue but my primary care doctor doesn't agree so the neurologist's fee wouldn't be covered.

True some Medicare Advantage plans are HMO's but a lot are PPO's which gives you your choice of Physicians .Most of the companies have their plans as they compare to medicare in chart form. They are IMO better for people without complicated health histories and who only take a few medications .
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
Read the article.

It appears that they are just going to be a sales outlet for certain insurance companies... I did not see (in the article) where they were intending to provide care.


It probably means the cashier points the customer to a kiosk to punch in their order.... or help them do it if they cannot figure it out.
I had a friend that set up a kiosk in Walgreen's during the Medicare enrollment period. Let's put it this way...she ain't gonna do that ever again. Total waste of time.

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True some Medicare Advantage plans are HMO's but a lot are PPO's which gives you your choice of Physicians .Most of the companies have their plans as they compare to medicare in chart form. They are IMO better for people without complicated health histories and who only take a few medications .
Maybe. Although you might be wise to keep your drug coverage separate from your health insurance. And around here, there are a couple big physician groups and a hospitals that have removed themselves from some of the networks.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:43 PM   #16
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This is a recipe for disaster. To be available for instant coverage, as you imply, leads to fraud.

Insurance companies who work with states to provide coverage to the poor (above Medicaid poverty level) have found themselves in a significant losing situation because the beneficiaries add and drop plans when they need coverage. Who pays when an insurance company loses millions due to this kind of instant coverage? You do in your private employers' health plan costs, no retirement benefits, or perhaps lower salaries than market because your employer has to cut costs to provide you with health insurance coverage.
Quick, notify the health insurance companies. "Hey, you guys don't know anything about making money! You'll lose your shirts with this harebrained idea."
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post

Just speculation on how it might work. They would call it a marketing program through a sales channel BTW.

If I remember correctly, one of the key aspects of that legislation to try to keep costs low. Self service is currently the lowest cost approach. Just above that is a call center with people pooled in a central location.

I would expect (hope) that people would have to do to verify who they are, information about them to prove eligibility. Especially to prove eligibility for that tax credit.

Look at how medicare part d coverage is provided. From what I saw with my mother it was all done online and over the phone. No face to face interaction with an agent... a little with a call center of a few items.
That call center -- every one of those customer service reps is a licensed insurance agent.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post

Not sure how the detail of the program (those health insurance exchanges) and the qualification for a tax credit will work yet. But, I kinda assumed for the insurer choice it would be a direct model (online or order info or application over the phone) and call if you have questions oriented... to keep costs down. That seems to be the way medicare part D works....

However, those exchanges have not been implemented yet (and could be a little different for each state... since the states are implementing them)... and more specifically how walgreens and their partner insurance companies might implement that program.... for that matter what the Walgreens program even is... was pure speculation.
I love your youthful optimism Chinaco. Every state will act to assure that their citizens receive good information about their choices from individuals who have passed background checks and can demonstrate a knowledge of the insurance law (or whatever the new healthcare coverage will be called). One way to do that is to require those who provide the info to be licensed with the state.

Even a direct purchase will still require the seller to prove to the state that the transaction is being concluded in a straightforward ethical manner by those who have met the state's requirements for both education and background checks. You wouldn't go to a doctor who hadn't been granted a license, would you? Because of the fiduciary nature of buying insurance, it needs to be regulated.

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You're gettin' mighty wound up about it. Do you work for Walgreens?
Nope!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
My concern... in a nutshell is cost. Since taxpayers will be footing the bill for those that can't pay the full freight.... I would prefer the overall program to be devoid of marketing... note: I am not talking about providing information... I am talking about a sales job to convince someone to buy a specific product from a specific company where they profit by the sale... or the exclusion of other providers (thereby reducing competition). Clear enough?
Again, I love your youthful optimism. You assume the cost of marketing and sales is a big part of a health insurance premium. Actually it all fits within a category called administration and generally this is less that 10% of the premium dollar. But you are correct, that a lot of insurance is sold by phone or by the internet and it has reduced the overall unit cost of selling a policy. But because there will always be a buyer and a seller there will always be some cost to concluding the transaction.


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