I'm sure that many of you have heard that Walgreens' is no longer an Express Scripts provider. Their contract expired on December 31, 2011 even though they tried to negotiate acceptable terms with Express Scripts. Walgreens was not seeking higher rates during the negotiation process.
Unfortunately, Express Scripts' actions have caused many people to have to drive out of their way to get their medications filled. Walgreens' hours also make it easier for many people to access their prescriptions because they have more 24 hour pharmacies than any other pharmacy network.
For more information, you can read this article from the Associated Press. Walgreens and Express Script
The breakdown in negotiations was due to Express Scripts' demand that they be able to define contract terms unilaterally. Specifically, Express Scripts' wanted to decide which drugs qualify as brand names and which ones were generic. They also attempted to cut Walgreens' reimbursement rate levels below the industry average.
An even more confusing aspect of the dispute is that Express Script admits that their clients will not save money by excluding Walgreens from their network. It's more likely that their costs will go up because Walgreens provides less expensive generic drugs than many other pharmacies.
Another huge issue is that Tricare is a part of the Express Scripts drug program. Tricare is the health and prescription drug care program that covers our military service men and women. Walgreens even offered a Express Scripts a separate contract with even better terms just for the Tricare program, but they were turned down. Walgreens was trying to take care of a group of people that they care about, but Express Scripts refused them at every turn.
Walgreens is doing their best to take care of the customers that have been displaced by Espress Scripts' actions. They are offering a discount on their Prescription Savings Club to ease the financial strain on members that want to stay with Walgreens pharmacies. Members of the Prescription Savings Club can save money on over 8,000 generic drugs. Individuals can join for five dollars and it's only ten dollars for an entire family membership.
Personally, I think it's really important to maintain a relationship with a pharmacist so they know your health situation and can make accurate recommendations. One of the reasons that Express Scripts' actions worry me so much is that they are trying to make people use their mail order pharmacy. What happens when you have an accident and need pain pills in the middle of the night? Or a flu shot? Some things just don't work through mail order pharmacies.