Good Medicine, Bad Information: Survey of Drugstores Finds Misinformation about Flu Shot Coverage

Drugstore customers seeking flu shots this winter may be paying too much because of bad information at the pharmacy counter, according to a new study by watchdog group Change to Win Retail Initiatives (CtW). The group surveyed 50 Walgreens locations in Los Angeles and New York City and found that the nation’s largest private provider of flu shots gave inaccurate information about insurance coverage 48 percent of the time. These errors could be causing customers to unnecessarily pay out of pocket for covered vaccinations or causing some shoppers to not get a shot at all.

Walgreens is the largest private provider of flu shots in the country, and flu shots are important for public health. On average there are 200,000 hospitalizations for flu-related complications each year, and out-of-pocket costs are one common reason people give for not getting vaccinated.

“It is truly shocking that Walgreens cannot consistently give accurate information about flu shot coverage,” said Nell Geiser, Associate Director of Change to Win Retail Initiatives. “Flu shots are important for keeping ourselves and our families healthy, and this study shows that it’s also important for consumers to be educated about their insurance coverage to avoid unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses when getting vaccinated.”

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Behind The Desk: A Report About Walgreen’s New Pharmacy Model

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A new report finds that Walgreen’s attempts to “revolutionize” the pharmacy may pose risks to patient privacy, medication accuracy and drug security. The new pharmacy model, named “Well Experience,” takes the pharmacist out of the traditional prescription fill work area and into a public space in front of the pharmacy. The out-in-front pharmacist remotely monitors the pharmacy technicians and checks the accuracy of prescriptions using photos and video displayed on a computer screen. Researchers made 100 visits to 50 Well Experience stores in Illinois, Indiana, and Florida to observe the model.

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