Transitioning from Duane Reade Flex Rewards to Walgreens Balance Rewards

Change is inevitable and after Walgreens bought the iconic Duane Reade chain of neighborhood pharmacies in and around New York City — and decided to keep the Duane Reade logo and name even though the stores are all “Walgreens” underneath the advertising sheath — I have been waiting for the official moment when Duane Reade is no longer really Duane Reade.

That moment happened on Sunday when Duane Reade’s excellent “Flex Rewards” program — spend a dollar and get a point — was replaced by Walgreens’ new “Balance Rewards” program where you spend a dollar and get 100 points.  With the Duane Reade card, you hit 500 points and you got $5.00USD; with Walgreens, you have to earn 5,000 points to get the same $5.00USD.  There’s nothing quite like unnecessary complication to help make things less simple — especially when a Duane Reade manager told me this morning that the new national Walgreens reward program was copied from what Duane Reade had been doing regionally.

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The Magic of Electronic Prescriptions

I was recently introduced to the magic of “Electronic Prescriptions” or “E-Prescribing” — or “E-Rx” if you prefer the funky — when I last visited my doctor for a 90-day refill of Benicar for $50.00USD:

Although e-prescribing is technically regarded “optional,” you could face payment penalties starting in 2012 if you are capable of participating and decided not to do so in 2011. This is as per a Dec. 13 PQRI National Provider Call sponsored by CMS.

Between 2012 and 2014, the payment adjustment will start for practices that are unsuccessful e-prescribers. Eligible professionals who don’t e-prescribe in 2011 could collect one percent less than the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule amount in 2012, and that pay cut will go up to 1.5 percent in 2013 and two percent in 2014, said CMS’s Daniel Green, MD, during the call.

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