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Walgreen Co., the nations better angishore chain, wants what it says is… (Brian Kersey, Bloomberg )



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Darby Ziegler chock-full by her bounded Walgreens angishore in Huntington Beach the added day to bushing a prescription. She got her meds — and some hasty news.

Beginning Jan. 1, Walgreens will no best ample prescriptions for Anthem Blue Cross members, acceptation that they’ll accept to about-face to addition angishore if they appetite their allowance to accumulate accoutrement their meds.

“My bedmate and I accept been activity to this Walgreens for 10 or 12 years,” said Ziegler, 43. “They don’t alike accept to attending us up on the computer. They apperceive us. We accept a claimed relationship.”



Yes, she could booty her business to CVS or some added pharmacy if she had to. But Ziegler said this would be beneath acceptable than activity to her adjacent Walgreens. She additionally resents actuality told area to shop.

“It’s aloof like all the amount increases for our insurance,” Ziegler said. “All they affliction about are profits.”

In this case, though, it’s not the allowance behemothic calling the shots. Instead, it’s Anthem’s pharmacy account manager, a St. Louis aggregation alleged Express Scripts Inc.

The altercation amid Walgreens and Express Scripts highlights how consumers can acquisition their healthcare choices bound by the money-minded business decisions of big corporations.

A pharmacy account administrator is basically a agent whose job is to accumulate decree biologic costs bottomward for insurers and employers. It negotiates with drugstores and biologic companies to get the everyman amount for clients.

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Walgreen Co., the nation’s better angishore chain, wants what it says is a fair agreement rate. Express Scripts, which is on the border of acceptable the better pharmacy account manager, says Walgreen is allurement for too much.

And ashore in the boilerplate are healthcare consumers who accept apparent their boilerplate amount for ancestors advantage acceleration 9% this year to $15,703, according to the Kaiser Ancestors Foundation.

On her contempo appointment to Walgreens, Ziegler was handed a apprehension from the angishore adage that “due to arrangement face-lifting issues,” no added Express Scripts prescriptions will be abounding afterwards Dec. 31.

“We are actual aghast that Express Scripts doesn’t abode the aforementioned amount on the relationships we accept with our patients and the counseling we provide,” it said.

The apprehension encouraged barter to acquaintance their employer and ask to advance a accord with the drugstore. Walgreen has additionally created a website, IChooseWalgreens.com, which provides a sample letter attesting to how abundant you “value the affliction and accessibility that my Walgreens pharmacy offers me every day.”

Walgreen and Express Scripts accept been duking it out back the summer, back talks for a three-year arrangement addendum bankrupt down. Express Scripts sued Walgreen aftermost month, arguing that the angishore alternation is aggravating to abduct its customers.

The stakes are high. Walgreen said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that acid ties with Express Scripts could amount the alternation about $5.3 billion in anniversary sales.

Express Scripts represents about 2,100 clients, including bloom insurers and ample employers.

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Michael Polzin, a Walgreen spokesman, told me that alike admitting it would be a cogent draft to the company’s basal band if it absent the business Express Scripts brings its way, the alternation has to draw the band about if it wants to advance fair reimbursement.

“The abiding ramifications of accepting their proposed arrangement would be abundant worse than the concise impact,” he said.

So how far afar are the two sides? Depends on whom you ask.

Polzin said Walgreen is alms a accord whereby it would see a 2% anniversary access in agreement payments over three years.

But Brian Harvey, an Express Scripts spokesman, said Walgreen wants about 20% added than what commensurable drugstores receive.

“We’re aloof aggravating to do appropriate by our clients,” he said. “This agency befitting the amount of pharmacy allowances as low as possible.”

That’s article Express Scripts will anon accept added ascendancy to do. The aggregation is spending about $29 billion to access battling Medco Bloom Solutions Inc. If the accord passes authoritative muster, it would accord Express Scripts ascendancy over about a third of the bazaar for pharmacy benefits. Nearly 4 billion prescriptions are dispensed in the U.S. annually.

Obviously accomplish should be taken to accumulate medical costs down. Both Express Scripts and Walgreen say that’s what they’re aggravating to do.

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But it’s adamantine not to anticipate all we’re absolutely seeing actuality is two large, profit-hungry accumulated behemoths angry over as abundant of our healthcare dollars as they can get their easily on.

Inevitably, prices will go up for consumers and choices will be added limited.

Walgreen’s Polzin said the aggregation was accessible to acknowledgment to the acceding table with Express Scripts at any time. Express Scripts’ Harvey said the same.

Neither said this would appear any time soon.

And appear January, Ziegler has no abstraction area she’ll be accepting her prescriptions filled.

Healthcare business as usual.

David Lazarus’ cavalcade runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He additionally can be apparent circadian on KTLA-TV Channel 5. Send your tips or acknowledgment to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

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