$300 billion annual health-care expenses from non-medicine compliance” “It’s an epidemic.”

 CVS executive: More changes coming to healthcare


The chief executive of CVS Health said Friday the United States is in the second or third inning when it comes to health-care changes and innovations.

Larry Merlo said that even though there have been significant breakthroughs in both areas recently, providers, consumers and employers remain caught in a “cost-quality-access conundrum.”

Merlo discussed CVS’ role in responding to those challenges in a speech to about 570 attendees at the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce’s annual state of the economy event.

That includes what Merlo called the “retailization of health care.”

He said CVS is playing a non-emergency role with in-store clinics operated by nurse practitioners, a pharmacy advisory initiative, and telemedicine offerings. Merlo called those services as “complementary and collaborative” with health-care systems.

Merlo said uncertainty lingers about the ultimate reach of the Affordable Care Act at a time when about 10,000 baby boomers a day become eligible for Medicare coverage and an estimated 30 million more Americans could be covered through health insurance exchanges, state Medicaid expansion and employers.

He said emphasizing preventive care is a big key to reducing overall health-care costs, such as accountable-care organizations promoting “whole body” evaluations, patient-centered medical homes offered though primary-care physicians, or simply digital reminders and prompts for people with chronic disease to take their prescribed medicines.

Merlo said about half of the patients that come to its MinuteClinic don’t have a primary-care physician.

“Pharmacies have a key role to play in health and with costs,” Merlo said. “It’s much more than just dispensing pills.

“There is about $300 billion in annual health-care expenses from unnecessary and avoidable costs from non-medicine compliance” by patients. “It’s an epidemic.”

Merlo said “employers needs to drive prevention, and CVS is walking the talk” by promoting consumer-driven high-deductible insurance plans and offering rewards to its employees “who take steps to improve their health.”

“Consumers will have more control and take more responsibility for their health care and health-care costs,” Merlo said. “We do have good reason to be optimistic.”

He cited as an example the waves of private-sector health-care innovations.

Another way CVS expanded its preventive care role was the decision to stop selling all cigarette and smokeless tobacco products in its more than 7,800 stores last October. It becomes the first national pharmacy chain to take that step.

“Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose” of better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, Merlo said in February 2014 when announcing the decision.

“There are some significant and lasting changes on the way,” Merlo said.

“Health care will change more, and be managed differently, in the next 10 years than the previous 50 years combined


4 Responses

  1. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery…I have been shouting this data from rooftops since it was published in late December, 2013. one tiny figure CVS FORGOT TO MENTION WAS THE 125M lives lost that year as well to “avoidable medication errors” due to medication adherence And poor Health Literacy about their disease and medications taken…….some good SYnch your meds can be RIGHT! more meds into the hands of patients who do not understand how to take them properly!

    A little late on breaking news don’t you think CVS!

  2. What’s he going to do, send someone to your house every day to do pill counts to make sure you took your meds or add an extra ‘surcharge’ if they think you weren’t compliant??? That wouldn’t work because docs change meds all the time. What an ididot.

  3. When it comes to healthcare, I would not believe anything Larry Merlo said. It is all about the money.

  4. Sure, high-deductible insurance plans are consumer-driven. Sure, they “reward” employees (by making them pay more). In fact, these high-deductible plans are probably one of the reasons that non-medicine compliance is an “epidemic.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: