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Walgreens Launches Program to Help Consumers Use New Medicare Discount Cards

DEERFIELD, Ill. - Leading drugstore chain Walgreens announced last week a new health education program to help its nearly 4 million daily customers daily sift through and find health services and discounts. The company said it aims to address the 84 percent of people ages 65 and over who said the new Medicare discount cards are "too complicated to understand (USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll)."

"Consumers need relevant and clear information," said Walgreens president and c.o.o. Jeff Rein. "We know millions of Americans trust our pharmacists for valuable health information. This program builds on that relationship."

The education campaign is designed to reach consumers where they seek information: in the stores, online and in the community. Currently, Walgreens is working with the American Library Association and U.S. Health and Human Services to provide Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) educational materials on the new Medicare discount cards to consumers at all of the nation's 16,400 libraries -- the No. 1 destination for health information for consumers who aren't online.

Other Walgreen information initiatives include training pharmacists to address current issues, offering health information online at through an arrangement with Mayo Clinic Health Information, and providing prescription labels in 14 different languages.

"People are confused about the cards, and we're a familiar face who can answer questions in a convenient location," said Rein. "We invite them to visit our stores and talk with our pharmacy staff. We especially encourage low-income consumers to ask about additional Medicare assistance, including no-cost card enrollment and an annual $600 medication benefit. These consumers can be helped most by Medicare's new program, and we want to make sure they know about it."

The Walgreens Health Initiatives card will be accepted at more than 46,000 pharmacies nationwide, including the 4,400 Walgreens, and through Walgreens mail service. It will offer discounts of up to 25 percent or more on many medications for an annual fee of $20. Walgreens also will accept several other Medicare-approved discount cards.
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