Kroger Health Enters Into Agreement With Medical Mutual

Grocer’s pharmacies will continue to accept provider’s insurance coverage
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Kroger's family of pharmacies will continue to provide services to services to Medical Mutual's Medicare Advantage members.

The Kroger Co.’s Kroger Health division has signed a direct agreement to continue providing pharmacy services to Medical Mutual's Medicare Advantage members. The agreement is effective as of Jan. 1 and keeps Kroger pharmacies in network for the insurance company’s users.

"We're excited to work with Medical Mutual as we continue to make health care more accessible for the communities we serve," said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. "Our collaboration demonstrates a continued commitment to providing patients with quality, affordable health care services."

"Medical Mutual is pleased with our agreement with Kroger that keeps their pharmacies in our Medicare Advantage networks," said Dr. Tere Koenig, EVP and chief medical officer of Cleveland, Ohio-based Medical Mutual. "Because our 2023 Medicare Advantage HMO and PPO plans received five stars from CMS, anyone who overlooked Medical Mutual because they thought Kroger was out of network can switch to one of these plans anytime throughout the year."

In December, Kroger Health made a similar direct agreement for the grocer’s family of pharmacies to remain in network with diversified pharmacy benefit manager Prime Therapeutics LLC, effective Jan. 1. Eagan, Minn.-based Prime Therapeutics is collectively owned by Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, and Kroger said that the deal will increase health access, deliver pricing transparency, and ensure affordable prices for commercial, Medicare and Medicaid customers.

Kroger Health was not able to reach an agreement with Express Scripts Inc., however, to continue offering coverage for its commercial customers. According to Kroger Health, it had attempted on dozens of occasions to negotiate in good faith with St. Louis-based Express Scripts, but eventually stopped accepting the provider’s insurance as of Jan. 1.

"Kroger is doing everything possible to deliver greater value for our customers and navigate this ongoing period of record inflation. We do not believe Kroger customers should have to pay higher costs to increase Express Scripts' profits," said Lindholz last October.

Kroger Health, the health care division of The Kroger Co., has more than 2,200 pharmacies and 226 clinics in 35 states serving more than 17 million customers with a team of 24,000 health care practitioners. Cincinnati-based Kroger has almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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