CVS Health MinuteClinic’s Free Offer

CVS Health is now offering eligible members access to MinuteClinic® services at no cost to them. MinuteClinic is a walk-in clinic inside select CVS Pharmacy and Target stores and is the largest provider of retail health care in the United States – with over 1,100+ MinuteClinic locations in 33 states and D.C.

MinuteClinic healthcare providers treat a variety of illnesses, injuries and conditions, and can also write prescriptions, when medically appropriate. Open every day, including evenings, MinuteClinic offers both walk-in and scheduled appointments for affordable weekend and after-hours care.

CVS Health/Aetna is cannibalizing, rather than capitalizing, on this special “free” retail clinic services offer. Self-funded groups are the first to be offered, then insured small groups though through January 1, 2020. There is no indication that individual coverage policyholders (Medicare Advantage, for example) will get this benefit.

CVS Health is currently offering this benefit to self-funded customers only. The benefit will become available to Small Group AFA effective September 1, 2019 and all other segments effective January 1, 2020. Access to the benefit may become available in certain fully insured markets upon receipt of individual state approvals.

What’s to prevent CVS Health/Aetna from simply increasing their administrative fees to cover the cost of the additional usage of clinics by ‘privileged’ accounts? The media release also doesn’t indicate whether CVS Health/Aetna has devised special reporting for both members and employers of the usage data and its relationship to the impacted plan’s more conventional health coverage features.