Walgreens remains out of network for UM System Health Plan

Friday, September 21, 2012 | 7:28 p.m. CDT; updated 12:20 a.m. CDT, Saturday, September 22, 2012

COLUMBIA — Despite a July agreement between Walgreens and Express Scripts, Walgreens pharmacy remains out of network for University of Missouri System faculty and staff covered by the myChoice Health Plan.

UM System employees have been unable to fill their prescription drugs at the lower, network cost at Walgreens since the company left the Express Scripts pharmacy benefits network at the beginning of the year.  In July, the two companies reconciled to include Walgreens pharmacies into the Express Scripts network once again.

However, according to an email addressed to faculty and staff sent by the MU Benefits Office Wednesday, the deal between Walgreens and Express Scripts only applies to a portion of Express Scripts clients that does not include the myChoice plan. The email also warned that Walgreens has been addressing letters and advertisements to former customers.

Jennifer Hollingshead, a spokesperson for the UM System, said Thursday that in the letters, "Walgreens is implying that their pharmacies are now in-network for our plan members, which could lead some members to believe that they will pay in-network prices when filling a prescription at Walgreens."

Some faculty and staff have been confused by the letters and advertisements, she said. 

Jim Graham, a spokesperson for Walgreens, said that after reviewing the letters, Walgreens believes it was accurate.

He quoted from the letter: “You may once again be able to fill your prescriptions at Walgreens," and he noted the use of the word "may."  He also said the letters included instructions on how to find out if your health plan was included in the new deal.  

Graham said the advertisements mirrored this phrasing. Neither the UM System nor Walgreens were able to provide the Missourian with a copy of a letter or advertisement.

Graham said there are signs and handouts at Walgreens explaining the chain's relationship with Express Scripts.

Walgreens has two stores in Columbia.

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