RI Blue Cross Members May Be Blindsided Soon After Walgreen/Rite Aid Deal Closes


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Walgreens will be taking over 43 Rite Aid pharmacies in RI in 2018.

Walgreens stores are set to take over Rite Aid pharmacies in Rhode Island in 2018 — and some Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) customers could see higher prescription co-pays as a result.

In September, Walgreens announced the approval of a $4.4 billion deal to buy 1,932 Rite Aid stores, which was going to leave Rite Aid with about 2,600 stores, according to national reports, before Walgreens then announced in October its plans to close 600 Rite Aids in 2018.

In Rhode Island, Walgreens will “transfer ownership” of 43 Rite Aid locations this month, according to a representative (see below) — and BCBSRI says that will have an impact on some customers.

“BCBSRI insurance is accepted at all Walgreens locations.  For the limited number of members who may participate in a preferred pharmacy network plan that does not include Walgreens, they can continue to have prescriptions filled at the former Rite Aid locations, but a slightly higher co-pay will be in effect once Rite Aid pharmacies change ownership to Walgreens,” said Gail Carvelli, Managing Director of Public Relations at BCBSRI.

“Alternatively, our customer service team is available to help those members transition their prescriptions to a convenient location within the preferred pharmacy network to maintain the lower co-pay rates,” said Carvelli.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield spoke to potential impacts on some customers, ahead of the transition.

Walgreens Media Relations specialist Phil Caruso responded to questions about Walgreens’ plans for Rhode Island Rite Aids — and the impact.

“We plan to acquire 1,932 Rite Aid locations and their transition will occur in two phases. First, we will transfer ownership, which will occur in waves. We will transfer ownership of 43 Rite Aid locations in Rhode Island this month,” said Caruso. “After the 1,932 store purchases are acquired, stores are planned to be converted to the Walgreens brand in phases over time. We anticipate the completion of the 1,932 store purchases in Spring 2018.”

Carulo explained more about how the Walgreens takeover of Rite Aids will look.

“When a store transfers ownership, the location becomes a Walgreens-owned Rite Aid store. The associates in the 43 Rhode Island stores will become Walgreens employees and have a Walgreens pharmacy. For now, the front of the store will continue normal business operations under the Rite Aid brand,” said Caruso. “At this time, the external store signs will remain Rite Aid. However, there will also be a sign on the window of the door indicated that the store is owned by Walgreens, in addition to signs at the pharmacy letting patients know this is a Walgreens pharmacy.”

Caruso would not comment, however, on the question of what will happen with customers insurance coverage”

“We continue to accept most insurance plans, but recommend patients call or stop by a store with questions about their specific coverage,” said Caruso.

The 43 Rite Aid locations in Rhode Island can be found HERE.