CVS Caremark planning a big push to promote Obamacare

CVS_ACA_survey_July_2013CVS Caremark, Rhode Island’s biggest private company and largest for-profit employer, is going all-in on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act ahead of its Oct. 1 launch.

CVS officials have revealed plans to “roll out a company-wide information and outreach program” at its 7,400 retail stores and 650 MinuteClinics nationwide to help Americans understand the new benefits that will become available when insurance exchanges such as HealthSource RI begin enrollment this fall.

The effort by CVS will include retail events, brochure displays and a new website, A survey commissioned by CVS that found less than half of those eligible for the health law’s new insurance subsidies are aware that they are.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to help Americans understand the new health care law and how it affects them so consumers receive the coverage that best fits their families,” CVS Executive Vice President Helena Foulkes said in a statement.

“The beauty of the CVS environment is that people are in our stores several times a month,” Foulkes told The Washington Post. “Maybe I come into the store and I notice one of the pamphlets and take one home. The pharmacist might say, ‘I noticed you paid cash. Do you want to think about insurance?’ The next time, I see a navigator and have a more lengthy conversation.”

One thing you probably won’t hear CVS say: “Obamacare.”

With Republicans and conservative groups preparing to push Americans not to participate in the law’s new insurance marketplaces, Foulkes told Politico CVS could experience some blow-back for backing the Obama administration. She said the company will try to avoid that by focusing on the law’s benefits to consumers and by using the state exchanges’ local names, like HealthSource RI and Covered California.

The decision to promote the health law isn’t a big surprise; as a CVS executive declared in 2009, “Anything that increases coverage will be good for our company’s business.” Walgreen’s and The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association have already announced their own plans to publicize the law.

CVS stock closed at $61.96 a share in New York Stock Exchange trading Friday, up from $45.33 a year ago, after the company reported robust first-quarter profits in May.

(graphic: CVS Caremark)

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