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UnitedHealthcare to open 14 Medicare services centers in Walgreens stores

Companies are also partnering on AARP Medicare Advantage Walgreens plans from UnitedHealthcare.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

UnitedHealthcare will open 14 Medicare services centers in Walgreens stores in five metropolitan areas starting in January 2020.

The Medicare service centers will open in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Cleveland, Denver and Memphis, as part of a multiyear agreement with Walgreens.

Through these centers, customers can learn more about Medicare, meet with service advocates to discuss their UnitedHealthcare plan benefits and enroll in plans.

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage members can make an appointment for an in-store annual wellness visit at the Medicare services center in Walgreens through the insurer's HouseCalls program.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The plans in which Walgreens customers can enroll include the new AARP Medicare Advantage Walgreens plans from UnitedHealthcare.

With the partnership, the nation's largest insurer is tying together the insurance trend towards retail access to consumers and consumer access to a competitive and growing Medicare Advantage market.

The new AARP Medicare Advantage Walgreens plans with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage will deliver lower prescription drug costs and offer convenient access to medications through Walgreens, the plan's preferred retail pharmacy, UnitedHealthcare said.

Many of the plans will feature $0 premiums and $0 copays on primary care visits, preventive care and many common generic drugs.

The plans feature benefits available through most UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans including a broad healthcare network, dental and vision coverage, and access to Renew Active, UnitedHealthcare's Medicare fitness program for mind and body.

AARP Medicare Advantage Walgreens plan members are not limited to using Walgreens and may continue to fill prescriptions at most retail pharmacies or through mail-order from OptumRx, another UnitedHealth Group company.

THE LARGER TREND

Insurers have been getting into the retail healthcare space as a way to reach consumers.

One of the most visible has been CVS Health's $69 billion acquisition of Aetna, with former Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini saying he did the deal as a way to reach consumers in a way not available to insurers.

Approximately 8 million customers interact with Walgreens in stores and online each day, according to UnitedHealth Group. As of August 31, Walgreens operates 9,277 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, along with its omnichannel business, Walgreens.com.

UnitedHealthcare said it serves one in five people in the Medicare program.

ON THE RECORD

"We are expanding access to UnitedHealthcare Medicare resources to better serve our members, providing them with all the valuable benefits they have come to expect from their UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans plus delivering the customer service and information they desire locally within Walgreens," said Mike Anderson, CEO of the Medicare Part D business at UnitedHealthcare.

"Walgreens' collaboration with UnitedHealthcare helps people navigate their healthcare options and provides convenient access to affordable care," said Rick Gates, senior vice president, pharmacy and healthcare at Walgreens. "Through strategic partnerships like this, Walgreens store locations can offer comprehensive services tailored to the specific needs of the communities we serve that are conveniently accessible alongside our pharmacy services."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com