Alaskans may need to find a new pharmacy pick-up location
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Thousands of Alaskans are soon going to have to find a new place to pick up their pharmacy prescriptions.
Kroger, Fred Meyer’s parent company, announced in a company press release at the end of September that they would be discontinuing their contract with Express Scripts, Inc., effective Jan. 1.
According to Fred Meyer Director of Corporate Affairs Jeffrey Temple, there were several reasons behind the decision to discontinue the contract.
“The contract did not enable Kroger Family of Pharmacies to improve health access, deliver pricing transparency or keep prices affordable for more than 17 million patients – which is especially concerning during an inflationary period,” Temple wrote.
TriCare is one of the insurance companies impacted by this discontinuation and serves all active duty military members, National Guard and reserve members, survivors, former spouses, Medal of Honor recipients and their families, as well as others who are registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Also impacted are customers of Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, which serves employees from the Municipality of Anchorage, and other insurance companies.
Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska issued a statement on their website addressing the end of their agreement with Express Scripts.
“We’re encouraging our members impacted by this change in pharmacies to transfer their prescriptions to another pharmacy, or sign-up for mail order, before their next refill,” the statement said.
Communications Director for the Municipality of Anchorage Corey Young wrote in a statement that those impacted by the change have been given notice ahead of time.
“The impacted members in the Municipality of Anchorage have received multiple communications concerning the disruption from both Express Scripts and through the MOA Bulletin Board with instructions on what action steps are needed by the member to avoid interruption in their treatment,” Young wrote.
Young said that letters from Express Scripts about the discontinuation of service were sent to impacted Municipality of Anchorage employees between Nov. 2 and Dec. 2.
“At a time when we should all be working to reduce health care costs, it is troubling that Kroger is pressing for a contract that would pass higher costs on to our clients and customers,” an Express Scripts spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We would welcome Kroger back into the network if they decide they want to do what is in the best interest of their customers.”
The Express Scripts website stated that the company expressed to customers that they should use home delivery, contact their current pharmacy to transfer their existing prescription to a new pharmacy or ask their doctor for assistance in transferring their prescription to a new location.
“With this change, the vast majority of our customers in Alaska will be able to continue to fill their prescriptions at their pharmacy, and we will support affected members to smoothly transition to another in-network pharmacy if needed,” an Express Scripts spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “There are more than 135 independent, chain, and grocery store pharmacies in our network across Alaska.”
Copyright 2022 KTUU. All rights reserved.