If you are anything like me, you have your favorite stores you regularly rely on. Places that are convenient to drop into if you need to pick up a gallon of milk, places where the price is always right on the items you frequently use, and places you can always count on for personalized customer service. They become our trusty standbys and an integral part our daily lives whether we are aware of it or not. And when something affects our ability to utilize these places, it can have quite the impact. This happened to me recently.
If you are a military family like we are, you are probably aware of the recent changes in prescription coverage with our insurance provider, Tricare. Tricare uses the Express Scripts program to provide prescription drugs to their customers. In our family, we have used them a lot!
When Little Man was born, he had serious complications during and after birth that landed us in the NICU and sent us home with a slew of medical equipment and crucial medications. We were fortunate that Tricare covered these necessary items, and even more fortunate that we could use our nearby Walgreens, to fill them. Because who wants to run out of the medication that keeps their infant’s airways open in the middle of the night and not have a place right down the road to get more?!
Now that our son isn’t on those medications anymore, I have continued to be a faithful patron of Walgreens because of their great customer service, their ease of use, and their multiple locations. When Little Man and I made the move back to Florida, we were lucky to have another Walgreens just a few blocks away and use them often. The ability to get my prescriptions filled in a place that is open 24 hours a day and where I routinely purchase other items is a blessing I don’t take for granted.
So when I read recently that Tricare’s prescription company, Express Scripts, was dropping Walgreens as a provider in their program coverage, I was pretty disappointed! Walgreens has been one of my trusty places for ages, and I’m sure they have been the same for many families. After receiving several letters in the mail from both parties, I hopped online to find out more information. It turns out that although Express Scripts stated their main reason for dropping was because Walgreens rates were not competitive with its pharmacy peers, Walgreens made many efforts to reach an agreeable compromise to remain in the military personnel network. I also learned that many military families (and others, since Express Scripts serves civilians as well) feel the same personal affects as I do. In fact, a quarter of a million military families signed a petition to keep Walgreens as their provider.
Most users (including myself) seem well aware that yes, there are many other pharmacy options out there, including the home delivery option that Express Scripts is adamantly pushing. But for many, the convenience of our local Walgreens right down the street and the wonderful customer service we have gotten there are highly preferable to becoming a number on a call-in phone line, and thus we are resisting the change. That, and the fact that Walgreens tried for months to negotiate with Express Scripts in an effort to continue to accommodate their 1.0 million plus military customers. But Express Scripts wouldn’t budge. And sadly, they have the monopoly on prescription coverage for military families and can do whatever they want.
Obviously, I understand that in comparison to the other changes in my life this isn’t a major one. I mean, I’m grieving the death of my husband and trying to forge a new life, I’m grateful that I still have Tricare insurance coverage at all! But if there is a way I can help Walgreens continue to serve the military community, I will gladly do my part. Because they have always been there to help our family, even in the middle of the night when we had a sick child, and keeping them as one of my reliable places will keep that part of my life simple when I need it the most. And also, because they are doing their part, too. In an effort to continue supporting military families after being dropped from coverage, they are now offering a special discount on annual memberships in their Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens. How nice is that? While it doesn’t equal the cost we would have if we were able to use Tricare, it is a nice gesture to help as much as they can.
Thus, my point in writing this whole article. If I can bring to light an issue that affects our military family, I will. If you are a military family that is affected by this change, or just want to learn more about the issue, check out the official press release about Walgreens and Express Scripts. If you feel inclined, write your own blog post or contact your local media to raise awareness. And be sure to follow Walgreens on Facebook and Walgreens on Twitter to show your appreciation for their support of the military. Because many of us, myself included, don’t want to lose one of our favorite places. Military life has enough challenges; let’s keep the easy ones easy.