Wal-Mart and Humana for Medicare Part D

Again, I’m a little late on this story (too much work), but I was thinking about it after the CMS news recently that they were going allow plans with a 5-star rating to have an open enrollment season all year round.  That’s a huge deal. 

(If you’re don’t know what the Star Ratings are about,  see the Kaiser Family Foundation piece on What’s In The Stars or if you’re working on improving your Star Ratings, you can see Silverlink’s Star Power solution.)

Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan

If you missed it earlier this year, Humana announced that they were partnering with Wal-Mart to offer the lowest national plan premium for 2011 for standalone PDP plans (see details).  Consumers who select the plan will get a lower copayment when they use Wal-Mart pharmacies.  (I’ve talked about limited networks before so it will be interesting to see if this gets more to be offered in the marketplace.)

“The basics of the preferred network – tight formulary and a low premium – offer an affordable value proposition for patients.”  William Fleming, Vice President of Humana Pharmacy Solutions (from Drug Benefit News on 10/8/10)

This creates a network with 4,200 preferred pharmacies and 58,000 non-preferred pharmacies.  Personally, I’m still surprised more people haven’t gone to the $0 copay for prescriptions at mail which Humana offers in this plan (for tier-one and tier-two).  United Healthcare has recently rolled out a program called Pharmacy Saver which has some similar attributes to the Humana plan. 

So, has it made a difference?  We won’t know yet.  I would expect it would.  The economy is still tight.  Seniors are budget conscious.  Humana has good brand equity.  Wal-Mart, especially in certain geographies, is frequented heavily by this population.

Medicare open enrollment is from November 15th thru December 31st.  This certainly caught everyone’s attention when it launched.  (You can see some of Adam Fein’s comments when it first was announced and here’s a more recent AP article on the topic.)  In a few months, we will know a lot more.

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