CVS/pharmacy Bill Pay Program Likely to Help Keep Consumers Connected to Coverage

By Sophie Stern

CVS/pharmacy is rolling out a new service soon that will make it easier for people to pay their health insurance premiums.

The “Bill Pay at CVS/pharmacy” program will let CVS/pharmacy shoppers pay their premium in any of the retail pharmacy’s 7,600 stores across the country at no additional cost. Submitting payments on time, every month is very important, so we hope other stakeholders will follow suit to make it as convenient as possible for individuals to maintain their coverage!

Here’s how it will work:

People whose insurance plans participate in the Bill Pay at CVS/pharmacy program will receive a barcode from their health plan when they get their monthly bill. They can then choose to pay their premium at any CVS/pharmacy location by having their personalized barcode scanned at the pharmacy counter or at the front checkout. People will be able to make a payment using cash, credit, or debit.

In addition, CVS/pharmacy has partnered with MoneyGram to facilitate cash-only payments from members of health plans enrolled in this service. MoneyGram is also partnering with stores such as Walmart, Albertsons, and ACE Cash Express.

Why it’s a big deal:

We’re excited about this initiative because it will make it easier for individuals to pay their premiums, and may actually increase the number of people who keep their coverage. Individuals who are low-income and/or without bank accounts are at greatest risk of losing their coverage, and it’s not necessarily because they can’t afford their monthly premium. According to a national survey released by Enroll America and PerryUndem, 74 percent of new enrollees were very or somewhat confident they would be able to pay their premiums moving forward. But not surprisingly, complicated rules about how to submit premium payments contribute to loss of coverage.

To make it easier to pay premiums and increase access to ongoing coverage, relatively new federal regulations require insurance companies to accept premium payments via paper checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, EFT, and all general-purpose pre-paid debit cards. And various stakeholders are going above and beyond to make it as easy as possible to pay premiums. CVS/pharmacy’s program is one such initiative that tops the list!

The in-store option makes it more convenient for the consumer: it streamlines everyday activities that can include running errands, shopping for food, picking up prescription drugs, and paying bills.  Having the option to pay bills while shopping isn’t an entirely new concept. Other stores, such as Walmart, offer bill-pay solutions for things such as utilities, cell phone, and mortgage payments.

According to some of the largest health insurance issuers, the vast majority — 80 to 90 percent —of people who signed up for marketplace coverage have paid their first month’s premium, which is the final step they need to take to activate their plan. This is very encouraging, but it’s equally important for consumers to continue making those payments — each month and on time — in order to keep their coverage.

Be sure to check back with us to learn about other innovative coverage retention programs being implemented around the country!


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