Retail News Breaks
Walgreens, GoHealth provide health coverage assistance
October 3rd, 2013
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. is working with health insurance portal GoHealth to provide customers an information resource as they weigh new health benefits choices brought by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its new Health Insurance Marketplace.
Walgreens said Thursday that its store staff are directing customers who inquire about the ACA's insurance options to the GoHealth Marketplace, a website where they can shop and compare health plans, enroll and find other key tools and information. The drug chain also is providing informational brochures and other materials in its stores.
Consumers, too, can access the GoHealth Marketplace from the Walgreens website at walgreens.com/healthcarereform or by telephone at (855) 487-6969.
Customers using the service receive one-on-one support from licensed GoHealth advisers, who can help them navigate the selection and enrollment process over the phone or online. Walgreens said the GoHealth Marketplace offers all plans available on the new federal and state insurance exchanges and can assist people regardless of income level or subsidy eligibility.
"As an accessible, community health care provider serving more than 6 million people each day, Walgreens can help connect those customers who may be considering new health insurance options with resources and information," Brad Fluegel, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Walgreens, said in a statement. "Our goal is to help ensure that people fully understand the marketplace and, working with GoHealth, to provide personalized consultation from experts who can help them make informed decisions."
Open enrollment for the marketplace began Oct. 1 and runs to March 31. People signing up by mid-December qualify for coverage starting Jan. 1. An estimated 7 million people will buy private plans via the state exchanges in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and 9 million will get coverage through Medicaid. Under the ACA, most Americans are required to have health insurance or pay a penalty on annual taxes.
"A partnership with Walgreens gives us an opportunity to reach a population that needs our help," stated Clint Jones, chief executive officer of Chicago-based GoHealth. "Educating and enabling consumers to enroll is core to our mission of helping individuals and families obtain the right health insurance coverage for their unique needs."
Citing a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, Walgreens noted that 51% of Americans say they don't understand how the ACA will affect them or their family, and 62% of respondents without health insurance said they don't have enough information about the health care reform law.
"We know people will have a lot of questions, and many may feel overwhelmed. This collaboration furthers our ongoing efforts to help those who may be entering the marketplace to be better prepared and make informed choices," Fluegel explained. "GoHealth is an ideal partner for this program, and together we look forward to creating a seamless experience that simplifies the process and provides the information and support people need."
Walgreens added that its walgreens.com/healthcarereform site provides an overview of key changes brought by health reform, including coverage dates, summaries of who and what conditions will be covered, and other important information. The site also has links to GoHealth to request assistance, get cost estimates and enroll in a health plan.
The alliance with GoHealth isn't Walgreens' first effort to provide consumers assistance in navigating the ACA. In July, the drug chain announced a partnership with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to educate consumers about the law and the new health insurance exchanges. The initiative centers on a website, LearnAboutReform.com, which provides consumers information about the new ways they will be able to buy health insurance and the new health benefits available to them.
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