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Pharmacy chain Walgreens, which is already expanding into retail health, will partner with Alegeus Technologies in offering customers wellness rewards for healthy behavior and other activities.
Waltham, Massachusetts-based Alegeus announced the partnership Tuesday.
Consumers will earn Walgreens Balance Rewards points for enrolling in and funding accounts, activating benefit debit cards, making purchases using their cards, or by participating in healthy activities such as walking, biking and weight management, according to Alegeus Chief Strategy Officer John Park.
Through an Application Program Interface, Walgreens and Alegeus can collect and access information in real time, in one integrated platform and on one card, according to Park. As consumers take a greater financial responsibility for their healthcare, the partnership allows them to be a better purchaser as they link wellness to lower costs, according to Park.
"People actually care about their money, they pay attention to their money," Park said. "We're trying to leverage that concept. Getting more value for my healthcare dollar (is a concept) I believe is missing from equation."
So far, the savings are not towards lowering healthcare premiums, but Park said the shift tying incentives to fixed premiums may be down the road.
For payers, the partnership is a way to market their services as more than an underwriting and pricing commodity.
"Obviously payers are going through a significant shift with reform," Park said. "Ultimately payers are trying to position themselves, or they are at risk of becoming a commodity insurance product. Most of the health plans we work with don't want to (become) a commodity."
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Alegeus' clients include health insurance plans and financial institutions, offering a platform for the administration of healthcare benefit accounts that are white labeled under the employers' brand to over 26 million consumers.
"Wellness programs have been around forever," Park said. "They're not getting the full value of those investments."
During this first phase of the partnership, consumers can access balance reward points to buy all types of products. The next phase is expected to target specific spending, such as for flu shots, he said.
While Walgreens is the main focus, Alegeus is also talking with other retailers.
"For us this is just a starting point," Park said. "Our intent is to plug in multiple retailers."