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CVS/pharmacy to provide personalized Medicare Part D plan comparison resources

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS/pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, will offer its senior patients an easy way to compare Medicare Part D prescription drug plans during the annual enrollment period of Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, the company has announced.

All CVS/pharmacy locations nationwide will be able to provide to patients a personalized Medicare Part D plan comparison in minutes based on the current prescriptions they fill at CVS. Patients will also have the option to conduct their plan comparison online at CVS.com/medicare or by calling CVS/pharmacy.

"CVS/pharmacy's plan comparison tool provides patients with convenient ways to learn how much money they could save by choosing a new Medicare Part D plan based on their own prescription usage," said Josh Flum, SVP of retail pharmacy, CVS Health. "While pharmacists cannot recommend any specific Medicare Part D plan, we can help patients understand their options based on their individual needs."

While CVS/pharmacy does not endorse any specific Medicare Part D plan and accepts all major Medicare prescription drug plans, it is participating in 20 regional and national Part D preferred pharmacy networks that provide additional savings opportunities for Medicare beneficiaries, including no or low co-pays on generic prescription medications.

The following national Medicare Part D carriers offer plans that include CVS/pharmacy as a preferred pharmacy:

  • Aetna
  • Coventry First Health
  • SilverScript Plus
  • United American Prescription Drug Plans
  • WellPoint affiliated plans

CVS/pharmacy is also participating in 16 regional preferred pharmacy networks across the United States.

Annual enrollment is the one time a year that most Medicare beneficiaries can review their current prescription coverage and enroll in a new plan for 2015 if they choose. Because Medicare Part D plans change every year and people's prescription needs may also change, comparing Part D plans could save patients hundreds of dollars.

Whether changing Medicare Part D plans or choosing one for the first time, it is important for patients to consider their annual deductible, premium and co-payments, as well as which plans cover the prescriptions they are taking, any out-of-pocket expenses, and if their pharmacy is included in the plan, the company stated.

Information from a selection of Medicare Part D plans in the local area will be available at Health Insurance Information Centers in all 7,700 CVS/pharmacy locations. In addition, more than 2,000 events will be held in CVS/pharmacy stores across the country during the open enrollment period, during which health insurance experts will provide Medicare Part D plan information to eligible patients. 

CVS/pharmacy's dedicated Medicare website also provides resources and information for Medicare beneficiaries, including access to the Medicare Plan Finder, tips on when to consider choosing a new plan and how to lower your prescription costs.
 

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JAMA: Smokers suffered from approximately 14 million major medical conditions

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Adults in the United States suffered from approximately 14 million major medical conditions attributable to smoking, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine Monday. 
 
“The disease burden of cigarette smoking in the United States remains immense and updated estimates indicate that COPD may be substantially underreported in health survey data,” noted author Brian Rostron of the Center for Tobacco Products, U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
 
The authors used National Health Interview Survey data to estimate that 6.9 million U.S. adults had a combined 10.9 million self-reported smoking-attributable medical conditions. Then, the authors used chronic obstructive pulmonary disease prevalence estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of self-reported and spirometry (a test of lung function) data to estimate that U.S. adults had had a combined 14 million smoking attributable-conditions in 2009. 
 
The largest cause of smoking-attributable illness in the United States was still COPD (emphysema) with an estimated 7.5 million cases attributable to smoking, but this number is 70% higher than the estimated cases based on self-reported prevalence data.
 
“The data from Rostron et al should serve to keep tobacco control and its 2-fold aims of preventing initiation and helping smokers quit as the most important clinical and public health priorities for the foreseeable future,” said Steven Schroeder of the University of California, San Francisco. “Tobacco control has been called one of the most important health triumphs of the past 50 years. Yet, although we have come a long way, there is still much more to be done, with the number of smokers worldwide now just short of 1 billion people. The article by Rostron et al is a stark reminder of that unfinished work.” 
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IRI MarketPulse survey: 2014 holiday sales expected to rise to $616.9 billion, up 3.1% year-over-year

BY Michael Johnsen

 

CHICAGO — Shoppers are rolling into the holiday season on a high note and are willing to spend a bit more, according to the latest IRI MarketPulse survey released Tuesday.
 
The National Retail Federation is predicting retail sales will be up by 4.1%in November and December. Overall, 2014 holiday sales are expected to rise to $616.9 billion, which is more than a 3.1% increase over 2013.
 
”Marketers have a lot to feel good about as we enter the 2014 holiday season,” stated Susan Viamari, editor, Thought Leadership, IRI. “Despite the bumps along the road, consumer confidence is definitely on an upward trajectory and this is clearly evidenced in holiday spending plans.”
 
Constructed against a benchmark of first-quarter 2011, IRI’s Shopper Sentiment Index provides insight into how the economy is impacting consumers and changing how they approach grocery shopping. The index provides perspective in terms of price sensitivity, brand loyalty and changes in spending required to maintain desired lifestyles. With a benchmark score of 100, a Shopper Sentiment Index score of more than 100 reflects consumers who are less price driven, more loyal to favorite brands and better equipped to maintain their desired lifestyles without changes as compared to Q1 2011.
 
The latest index across all ages surveyed for Q3 is 121.4 compared to 108.5 in Q3 2013, which is the highest point the index has reached, since it was launched in 2011. In addition, 20% of Americans feel that their financial situation has improved during the past year compared to 17% in Q3 2013. And, 25% also expect continued improvement in the coming months — a sizable jump versus 19% in Q3 2013.
 
Consumers’ sunnier sentiment is expected to bring good tidings to marketers. Consumers say they will be getting into the spirit and are planning to spend just a bit more on holiday celebrations. As many as 8% of consumers say they will be spending more on celebrations compared to 6% in both 2013 and 2012. In contrast, 36% of shoppers will be spending less on celebrations in 2014 compared to 43% in 2013 and 45% in 2012.
 
Overall 5% of consumers say they will be spending more on food and beverages in 2014 compared to 4% in 2013 and 3% in 2011. Furthermore, budgetary cutbacks are becoming less pervasive, with approximately one-quarter of consumers (28%) intending to spend less this year versus a year ago, compared to 33% in 2013 and 36% in 2012.
 
“The operative word here is ‘caution,’” Viamari said. “These aren’t huge gains, but they are cautious gains. And, a 2% increase in the overall holiday pie for CPG marketers is definitely good news, where a point gain can make a huge difference to the top line.”
 
The MarketPulse survey also uncovered the following key consumer attitudes regarding the holiday meal:
 
  • 62% will prepare the best meal possible, but will work to keep cost down;
  • 18% will put on the best meal possible and view holidays as a time to splurge; and
  • 65% will buy as many or more gourmet/premium products this year versus last year.
When it comes to holiday shopping, nearly everyone is entering the process with a shopping list in hand. And it’s absolutely critical to make it on consumers’ shopping lists, because 33% of consumers say they are cutting back on additional/unplanned purchases this year. On the flip side, impulse buying cannot be ruled out completely. With 33% of consumers saying they will be leveraging in-store promotions, there is a chance for last-minute purchases. So, compelling in-store promotions are still a must for CPG marketers.
 
Savings are at the top of the wish list for shoppers, so many different savings tools are being embraced this year. The notable point here is that consumers will rely more heavily on online coupons from a variety of cyber locations:
 
  • 30% will use more coupons from manufacturer websites;
  • 28% will rely more on coupons from retailer websites;
  • 27% will embrace coupons received via email;
  • 26% will tap into coupons offered on group couponing sites; and
  • 22% will leverage more coupons on social networking sites. 
”Marketers are certainly in a position to unwrap a nice boost in sales this holiday season,” Viamari said. “But, maximizing this opportunity will require marketers to communicate a clear and concise value proposition early and often throughout the shopper journey.”

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