Have you heard about the contract dispute going on between Walgreens and Express Scripts? Well Express Scripts is a mail order provider of prescription drugs and they’re also the middleman between many companies’ insurance programs and their employees’ pharmacies.
Tricare is the health and prescription drug program for members of our military and they’re an Express Scripts customer so I’m really familiar with them. My parents have had excellent drug coverage through Tricare since my dad is retired military. For years they’ve enjoyed being able to pick up their prescriptions at very low rates from their corner Walgreens instead of traveling all the way to the base to get them.
Unfortunately they can’t do that anymore because the contract between Walgreens and Express Scripts expired on December 31st and efforts to renew haven’t gone well. Walgreens offered to hold their rates flat for the new contract and even guaranteed Express Scripts that they’d match or beat the average costs per prescription of all other pharmacies in the Tricare network.
The dispute is actually over who gets to decide what constitutes a brand versus a generic drug, and whether Walgreens should accept reduced reimbursement rates of below national average costs. Sadly, even though a quarter million current and retired members of the military and their family members signed a petition requesting continued access to Walgreens, Express Scripts also refused to negotiate separately for the Tricare contract.
In an effort to reduce the disruption to Express Scripts customers, the pharmacy is offering a special discount on an annual membership for the Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens. During January an individual membership is $5 and a family membership is $10, those prices are normally $20 and $35 a year.