April 10, 2015

Walgreens to Close 200 Sites

wag_logo2In a move that is related to cost cutting, Fortune (among many other news outlets) announced that Walgreens will close 200 domestic locations.  This may, or may not, have implications for your on-site programming and strategy.  I think it may impact your stock portfolio if you own Walgreens stock.  If this is your local beer/wine and convenience retail outlet, things are going to get more inconvenient.  If one of the stores is linked to your on-site programming or your benefits structure, you need to know which stores are going to close and when and how it may impact your beneficiaries.

In the recent past, retail medicine has become more important as consumers wake up to the impact of new co-pays and higher deductibles.  The on-site industry has changed as Walgreens divested its “workplace TakeCare” to concentrate on its “retail TakeCare”.  There have been any number of drug store and convenience store look-alike programs that give the consumer a chance for a quick flu shot or a sports physical while they shop for other health related items like potato chips and condoms.

The consumer confusion should be the issue that employers consider when they address how the on-site clinic should be positioned in the benefitconfused program.  Is the retail site an opportunity or an add on?

Where does self diagnosis fit in the picture?  What instructions are there for employees on self-triage?  Is there a consumer guide to local area health care changes?

The first we heard about this was in the New Jersey and Arizona press alerts we get routinely in our office to track and monitor health care changes in key market areas.  That is where consumers (beneficiaries!) are looking for clues to how to use their benefit dollars  — or, are they seeking advice from the on-site program that the firm has established to give them the best value alternatives for their co-pay dollar?

As for me, I love my Walgreens card and its slick prescription service.  None better, as far as I know this morning.  I will probably take a look at their stock and see if I can match some stock ratios to the news about site closings.  If so, I will get some on the open market.  I think they are acting like a publicly traded firm should — minimize cost and maximize share value.  If my local Walgreens closes, I will get my flu shot and my junk food elsewhere.

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