Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) (Nasdaq:WAG) announced today that it will provide more than 160,000 eligible employees with employer-sponsored health insurance coverage in 2014 through its proprietary “Live Well Benefits Store,” a marketplace that is an outsourced solution through Aon Hewitt Corporate Health Exchange. The Walgreens program provides more health coverage choices and an opportunity for most employees to lower their out-of-pocket health care costs next year. In addition, the new program allows Walgreens to continue offering health insurance and wellness benefits to its employees as the plan administrator, while providing tools and resources that help employees personalize coverage for themselves and their dependents. The plan members will also continue receiving access to Walgreens Healthcare Clinics for a $5 co-pay. “Under this new program, employees will have expanded choices to personalize their health care coverage in a competitive environment, giving our diverse workforce the flexibility they need to meet their health care needs,” said Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, Walgreens senior vice president and chief human resources officer. “We will continue to invest in the health of our employees and their dependents while using a marketplace solution that offers a wide variety of plan options that meet the affordability standard of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The new program also continues Walgreens value-based pharmacy benefit for employees, which excludes prescriptions from plan deductibles. “Our experience has been that this approach to pharmacy benefit design is the best way to improve medication adherence and lower overall health care costs,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. Walgreens anticipates that many of its retirees who are under age 65 and are eligible for company health care benefits will see reductions in their health care premiums and more plan options as well. Medicare-eligible retirees will see no changes in 2014. The new program also provides an opportunity for Walgreen retirees who weren’t previously eligible for health care benefits to participate in affordable plan options through the “Live Well Benefits Store.”
Working with Aon Hewitt, the Walgreens marketplace will offer a wide array of benefit options and carriers for medical, dental, vision, pharmacy and other benefits coverage in 2014. Walgreens contribution toward the cost of health care benefits will be at the same level as it was the previous year, with employees choosing a health care plan that is personalized to their own individual and family needs. Plan options include three high-deductible health plans, a PPO and an HMO-style plan. With up to five carriers in each of the country’s 21 geographic regions, the range of pricing for premiums can be as low as $5 a month or less, depending on the region. These options can be particularly attractive to the 36 percent of employees who are single and under age 30.“With continued investment in wellness programs that are an effective means of improving personal health, we are assisting our team members and their families to control the cost of insurance premiums in future years,” said Wilson-Thompson. “Our Walgreens ‘Well Informed’ wellness program, launched in 2010, paid team members approximately $35 million in the last year in incentives and rewards for participation in health risk questionnaires, biometric screenings, healthy activities and tobacco-free counseling services, among other programs.” Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, said, “Walgreens is moving down a path that shows a commitment to its employees and the desire to offer competitive, cost-effective, flexible benefit choices. Marketplaces similar to Aon Hewitt, while new for active employees in the employer space, offer opportunities to drive more consumerism and consumer engagement. Keeping prescription drugs from the plan deductible is innovative and could help control costs and buy more health, not just buy more health care.” About Walgreens As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2012 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens ( www.walgreens.com) vision is to become America’s first choice for health and daily living. Each day, Walgreens provides more than 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The company operates 8,117 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country. Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Statements in this press release that are not historical are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “expect,” “likely,” “outlook,” “forecast,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “can,” “will,” “project,” “intend,” “plan,” “continue,” “sustain,” “synergy,” ”on track,” “believe,” “seek,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “may,” ”possible,” “assume,” variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause actual results to vary materially from those indicated, including those impacting the cost, coverage and utilization of health insurance by eligible participants and the factors described in Item 1A (Risk Factors) of Walgreens most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, each of which is incorporated herein by reference and in other documents that Walgreens files or furnishes with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those indicated or anticipated by such forward-looking statements. Accordingly, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made. Except to the extent required by law, Walgreens does not undertake, and expressly disclaims, any duty or obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statement after the date of this report, whether as a result of new information, future events, changes in assumptions or otherwise.