Wal Mart and Caterpillar Team Up for No-Copays

I have said it in meetings, in emails and on Twitter: Wal Mart can revolutionize healthcare in this country. They have the power to change the way patients get and pay for their medications. Already, Wal Mart has changed the pharmacy industry by introducing their $4 generic drug program in the fall of 2006. This program made every pharmacy, from Target and CVS to Farmer Joe and Hannafords, also offer $4 generics to compete.

This program has saved Wal Mart customers $1 BILLION already. THAT is impressive.

One of the programs for aiding the US healthcare system and helping patients become healthier is employer /health plan sponsored lower co-pays and free medication for chronic diseases. This is not my original idea, as several companies have offered these services to their employees, but one that I fully support and believe will make a difference in medication non-adherence. As we know, forgetfulness is the #1 reason, with drug prices, side effects and drug education being the other factors that contribute to this pandemic.

Wal Mart and Caterpillar are taking this idea a step further by offering no co-pays for employees taking Tier-1 generics.

"Caterpillar Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have embarked on a pilot drug program that could revolutionize the prescription drug industry, officials from both companies said Monday.

Select salaried and management employees of Caterpillar as well as its retirees and surviving spouses can get Tier-1 generic drugs filled for no co-payment at all Wal-Mart, Sam's Clubs and Neighborhood Market stores now through Dec. 31, 2009, as part of the program that began earlier this month.

The co-payment for the generic drugs is $5 at other pharmacies.

While about 70,000 Caterpillar employees are affected now, that could expand to include union-represented employees who opt into the company's HMO plan beginning Jan. 1, 2009, said spokeswoman Rachel Potts. Open enrollment begins in November."

I think this is another fantastic program and shows the real power Wal Mart has to influence the US Healthcare industry.

"The goal of the pilot program, on which Caterpillar and Wal-Mart negotiated for several months, was to remove unnecessary costs from the health care equation, said Todd Bisping, Caterpillar's pharmacy benefits manager.

It does that by eliminating the middle man, so to speak, in the pharmaceutical management process. Most companies contract with an outside pharmacy benefits manager to set rates on prescription drugs, rates co-payments are designed to cover to defray the company's costs.

Caterpillar negotiated directly with Wal-Mart on the rates, saving it money and enabling Caterpillar to then waive the co-payment for its employees and retirees, Bisping said."

You can read the full story from the Peoria Journal Star.

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