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Health Plan Offers Members Access to Walgreens Clinics; Geriatric Society Offers Tips on Use

AGS updates tip sheet on what senior citizens and caregivers need to know about using retail clinics; Wellcare makes deal for Medicare health plan members

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

senior getting treatment at a retail clinicMay 23, 2013 - Health care services by retail clinics can be a safe option for older adults for occasional, minor health problems, but should not take the place of an individual’s primary care provider, according to a newly updated consumer tip sheet by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and Healthinaging.org. A sign of the growing popularity of these clinics is an announcement this week by WellCare Health Plans that it will offer its Medicare Advantage members access to the more than 370 Take Care Clinics located at select Walgreens.

There are now more than 1,400 retail clinics nationwide in pharmacies, supermarkets, and “big box” stores. Between 2006 and 2009, the number of older people using these clinics more than doubled from 7.5 percent to 15 percent.

To help seniorss and caregivers understand what role retail clinics can play in their health care, the AGS and Healthinaging.org offer the following tips and information.

Rely on your primary care provider for most of your care.
Retail clinics can’t—and shouldn’t—take the place of an older adult’s primary care provider or medical specialists. Older adults tend to have more health problems, and more complex healthcare needs, than younger adults.

Use retail clinics for occasional, simple health care needs.
The most common health issues retail clinics treat include:

   ● Routine vaccinations

   ● Colds and coughs

   ● Flu symptoms

   ● Sinus and ear infections

   ● Strep throat

   ● Allergies

   ● Minor burns and sunburns

If you visit a retail clinic, be sure to:

   ● Bring a complete list of the all medications you’re taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements. Ask the clinic staff to check the list to make sure these drugs and supplements won’t interact with any new medications they may prescribe.

   ● Let the clinic staff know if you have had any allergic reactions to any medications you’ve taken, or have had any other problems with medications.

   ● Give the clinic staff your primary care provider’s name and phone number.

   ● Request a report from the clinic— before you leave—that includes your diagnosis and follow-up instructions. Share that report with your geriatrician or primary care provider as soon as possible.

What about payments?
Most retail clinics accept private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. They can be a less expensive option for simple treatments such as vaccinations.

For more tips and information from the experts in older adult health and wellness, visit www.healthinaging.org.

WellCare use of Walgreen’s Take Care Clinics

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) entered into an agreement with Take Care Health Systems, a subsidiary of Walgreens (NYSE, Nasdaq: WAG), to offer its Medicare Advantage members access to the Take Care Clinics located at select Walgreens stores in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

WellCare says it serves more than 256,000 Medicare Advantage members in 14 states.

Take Care Clinics are staffed by board-certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants to treat patients 18 months of age or older.

Services include treatment of common illnesses; assessment, treatment and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol; a wide range of immunizations; preventive health services; and administrative and camp physicals.

Take Care Clinics also offer Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visits and Medicare Yearly Wellness Visits. The visits are wellness services for Medicare beneficiaries that include screenings for a number of common conditions, as well as education and counseling to encourage wellness and prevent disease.

“Take Care Clinics provide a high-quality, cost-effective and convenient option for health care services,” said Heather Helle, Divisional Vice President, Consumer Solutions Group at Walgreens.

“Open seven days a week, with extended evening and weekend hours, we offer walk-in availability and same-day appointment scheduling, giving members convenient access to health care services.”

Take Care Clinics are located in Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

WellCare Medicare Advantage members can visit www.takecarehealth.com or call 1-866-Take-Care (1-866-825-3227) to find the nearest Take Care Clinic location, schedule an appointment, learn about wait times and find a complete list of service costs.

About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. provides managed care services targeted to government-sponsored health care programs, focusing on Medicaid and Medicare. Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., WellCare offers a variety of health plans for families, children, and the aged, blind, and disabled, as well as prescription drug plans. The company serves approximately 2.7 million members nationwide as of March 31, 2013. For more information visit the company's website at www.wellcare.com.

 

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