Wal-Mart To Provide Prescription Drug Services For Some Employers

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Wal-Mart Stores CEO Lee Scott on Wednesday at anannual meeting in Kansas City, Mo., announced plans to begin apilot program under which the company will help certain employers "managehow they process and pay prescription claims," an indication that Wal-Martseeks to enter the pharmacy benefit manager business, the Wall StreetJournal reports.

Scott did not name the employers or discuss the details of the program, but hesaid that Wal-Mart could save the companies more than $100 million this year.According to a Wal-Mart spokesperson, the employers might contract with thecompany to fill all or a majority of prescriptions for employees. Wal-Martcould reduce health care costs for the employers through a program that offersprescriptions of generic medications for $4 (Zimmerman/Martinez, WallStreet Journal, 1/24).

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Scott also said that Wal-Mart plans to work with health care providers toincrease the use of electronic prescriptions and establish electronic healthrecords for U.S. employees (Mui, Washington Post, 1/24).

David Veal, a PBM analyst at Morgan Stanley, said, "Our conversations with employee benefit managers suggest they're open to alternative approaches, so there's room in the marketplace for a different type of offering." He added, "As the U.S. economy gets tougher, employers are going to look for new ways to control costs, and Wal-Mart will find a receptive audience." However, Veal said that Wal-Mart would face some challenges in the PBM business because "employers are risk-averse" and "hesitant to move just on price" (Wall Street Journal, 1/24).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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