Accessible and Affordable Health Care

  • Focus: Affordable and Accessible Health Care

    As more people access the health care system,
    CVS Health is working to meet the demand for services by expanding the reach and scope of affordable care through our integrated health care model. Our model includes traditional pharmacy and health care services, as well as a growing spectrum of services made possible by new technologies – all designed to serve patients and customers beyond the brick-and-mortar site.

  • Offering Quality and Affordability at MinuteClinic

    The rapid growth of retail medical clinics has brought health care right into local neighborhoods, improving access for millions of Americans. MinuteClinic, the largest provider of retail health care, is playing a big part in this expansion. Our objective is to provide quality care to millions of Americans while keeping our prices as close to cost as possible with most services available for less than $100 and more than 80% covered by insurance.

    MinuteClinic is the only retail health care provider to receive four consecutive accreditations from The Joint Commission, the national evaluation and certifying agency for nearly 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® demonstrates MinuteClinic's compliance with the organization’s national standards for ambulatory health care quality and safety.

    With more than five million patient visits in 2015, MinuteClinic added 85 new locations, including in two new states, Maine and Kentucky, as well as our first in a Navarro Drug Store in Florida. By year-end, there were more than 1,000 MinuteClinic locations in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

    Broadening Our Services at MinuteClinic

    Health care providers throughout the United States are experiencing a similar phenomenon. Demand for their services is exploding while, at the same time, they are struggling to keep pace with the demand. This prompted us to consider how MinuteClinic can help fill the gap, beyond our traditional suite of services. For example, in 2015, we began offering care for gastro-intestinal illness, muscular skeletal pain, and headaches. In 2016, we will launch women’s health services, including contraception counseling as well as first-trimester wellness checks for pregnant women.

    Expanding MinuteClinic’s Reach through Telehealth

    As the U.S. population continues to embrace online and mobile platforms, we are investing in advanced technologies to enhance and extend telehealth — the delivery of health care using electronic and telecommunications technologies — and other emerging digital health care opportunities. Our goal is to use technology to provide the same convenient, affordable and quality care offered in our MinuteClinic locations to an expanded group of patients.

    Our initial pilots in California and Texas demonstrated that we could use telehealth to deliver high-quality care and achieve high levels of patient satisfaction based on quality, convenience, and effectiveness. Moreover, about 20% of the telehealth visits provided access to care for patients who live beyond our pre-existing footprint.

    We also began to work with direct-to-consumer telehealth providers in 2015, including American Well, Doctor on Demand, and Teladoc, to improve and expand the care of patients at home. As a first step, we initiated several new pilots, including how to make telehealth physician care accessible through digital platforms. Another pilot is exploring the potential of expanding the scope of care offered at MinuteClinic by having our practitioners consult with telehealth physicians. We are also testing whether our retail stores can serve as sites for in-person exams to facilitate telehealth medical visits.

    In total, we conducted approximately 7,500 telehealth visits in 2015.

    Meeting the Needs of Diverse Populations

    Through the expansion of MinuteClinic locations and services, we are reaching a more diverse group of patients, and we are refining our ability to meet their needs.

    For example, when we opened our first MinuteClinic in a Navarro location, we added Spanish-language options to kiosks and ensured the clinic's nurse practitioners were bilingual. Navarro is a 33-store pharmacy chain, which CVS Health acquired in 2014, serving the Hispanic community in south Florida. We see this first foray by MinuteClinic as an opportunity to better serve the Hispanic community, whether through additional MinuteClinic locations and services, or through the 12 CVS Pharmacy y mas stores we opened in 2015. Eventually, we hope to expand beyond this region to other markets with sizable Hispanic populations.

    In 2015, MinuteClinic also focused on improving accessibility for patients with visual, hearing, and other disabilities. This included providing live sign language interpreters upon request and helping to ensure that patients with visual impairments received treatment and vital information in accessible formats. We are also exploring the most effective method to obtain accurate weight measurements for patients who rely on wheelchairs.

  • Bringing Optical and Audiology Services to CVS Pharmacy

    As we broaden our scope of health care services, we are testing a model to conveniently provide audiology and optometry services to our patients in select CVS Pharmacy locations. Clinical services at our optical centers are provided under an optometrist’s care up to five days a week and our hearing centers are under the direction of licensed audiologists or hearing instrument specialists. As part of their end-to-end service, the centers diagnose, treat, and manage acute and chronic eye disease and hearing loss, conduct exams, write prescriptions, and provide a selection of eyewear or hearing aids, as well as related products and services for children and adults. The first optical centers opened in 2015 with five stores in Baltimore. Seven hearing centers were opened in Dallas and Cleveland.

  • Making Prescription Drugs and Services More Affordable

    In 2015, medication costs continued their upward trend, driven primarily by the ongoing forces of brand price increases as well as the rise in the availability and utilization of specialty drugs. The proportion of high-priced specialty prescriptions has grown 22% over the last four years. Over the same time period, 103 new specialty drugs entered the market, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved 118 new indications for existing products.

    At CVS Health, we are focused on understanding the dynamic market forces that are causing these increases. More importantly, we are using our size and scale in the marketplace, through our retail and specialty pharmacies, our PBM business, and our recent integration of Omnicare to introduce cost management strategies that enable us to negotiate better prices and bring down costs for our patients, clients, and plan members.

    For example, we led the industry with our formulary strategies that incorporate selective drug coverage, tiering, and utilization management to drive cost-effective solutions while providing clinically appropriate alternatives for members. Most classes of drugs have multiple generic and low-cost brand options that cover the same indications and are as safe and effective as brand options in the same class.

    We also believe that managed network options can help reduce prescription costs while still offering members excellent access. In today’s marketplace, cost-conscious members are receptive to narrower network options, which may offer them fewer choices of where to fill their prescriptions but result in lower costs for every fill.

    We closely monitor new medications that are projected to be available, such as the new hepatitis C and cholesterol drugs that came to market in 2015. We know that the cost of medications will continue to be a critical factor in health care, and we are committed to assisting our clients with strategic management from day one, while also promoting best value and adherence strategies to achieve better outcomes and lower costs.

  • Reaching Diverse Communities through Project Health

    CVS Health is committed to helping people who may not have the resources to pay for medical care to connect to preventive health services. Now in its tenth year, Project Health offers preventive health screenings, including glucose, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and BMI evaluations, free of charge. In 2015, we reached nearly 89,000 participants through 1,113 Project Health events, which took place in 793 CVS Pharmacy stores across the country, and 23 events held in Puerto Rico. Services provided through Project Health were valued at $8.8 million in 2015.

    In addition to the screenings noted above, participants in a Project Health event during 2015 were offered consultations with a nurse practitioner as well as a CVS pharmacist, including smoking cessation counseling, diabetes resources, a referral directory for participants who did not have a primary care physician, and one-on-one counseling on health insurance options for the uninsured or underinsured.

    Given the prevalence of diabetes among the underserved communities that Project Health reaches, we partnered with Novo Nordisk in 2015 to provide diabetes counseling and offered additional resources at our Project Health events. We are now exploring opportunities to expand our partnerships so more in-person support for treatable conditions can be provided at these events.

  • Supporting Health Care in Our Communities

    At the heart of our purpose of helping people on their path to better health is our commitment to supporting the communities we serve. In 2015, we provided more than $80 million in charitable support through the CVS Health Foundation, corporate grants, gifts in-kind, and employee giving and fundraising.

    We focus our investments in the area of health care, specifically to increase access to health care for underserved populations as well as to support innovative approaches to chronic disease management, population health management, and smoking cessation and youth tobacco-prevention. We make strategic investments that maximize our impact through increased capacity, improved health outcomes, lower overall health care costs, and identification of innovative health care models that can be replicated.

    It is our goal to partner with best-in-class organizations that are subject-matter experts in their field and deliver meaningful results. For example, we have multi-year, multi-million dollar partnerships with the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics and the National Association of Community Health Centers that are focused on addressing the critical need for more accessible, coordinated health care in communities across the country.

    In 2015, the CVS Health Foundation provided a total of 55 grants that have since made meaningful progress toward their goals of improving care coordination, managing chronic conditions, and increasing access to care. Critical results from the Foundation funding include:

    • The Free Clinic of Central Virginia (Lynchburg, VA) reduced their average patient waiting time between receiving a referral and comprehensive services from 30 days to 10 days. The Clinic was also able to reduce the number of hospitalizations for COPD by 51%, surpassing their original goal of 33%.
    • St. Mary's Health Wagon (Wise, VA) saw a blood pressure reduction in 66% of their patients with hypertension or diabetes mellitus, which surpassed their initial goal of 50%.
    • Community Care Clinic of Rowan County (Salisbury, NC) saw 86% of participants in their smoking cessation program completely quit smoking, which far surpassed the original goal of 15%.
    • In the Corpus Christi (TX) Metro Ministries' smoking cessation program, 51% of the participants reduced tobacco use.
    • As a result of the Cornerstone Assistance Network's (Fort Worth, TX) program that raises awareness about how to prevent diabetic peripheral neuropathy through diabetes management, 32% of program patients showed a 10% or more decrease of hemoglobin A1C, a measure of blood glucose levels, surpassing their 20% goal.

    We also support our own colleagues in times of need. In 2015, the CVS Health Employee Relief Fund (ERF), a public charity created to support CVS Health employees, reached the milestone of donating more than $1 million to colleagues in need in 2015. The ERF provides short-term, immediate financial relief to colleagues who have suffered significant hardship as a result of a natural disaster, family death, medical emergency, or other unforeseen events.

    In addition, our colleagues bring our purpose and our values of caring and collaboration to life through their spirit of volunteerism. In 2015, colleagues donated more than $1.5 million in value of volunteer hours and nearly $1 million to the causes they care most about.

  • Supporting Our Patients During Natural Disasters

    When severe weather is approaching, the last thing patients may worry about is the medication they will not realize they need until they cannot get to the pharmacy. In October 2015, we partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to run a proactive, severe weather alert in response to the potential arrival of Hurricane Joaquin. CVS Pharmacy quickly devised an outreach plan focused on patients serviced by our nearly 300 pharmacies located in the storm alert path. Within 36 hours, our team put technology to work, delivering more than 500,000 automated voice and text messages to patients on maintenance medications recommending they check their supplies, call their pharmacist with questions, or visit their pharmacy before the storm intensified. We anticipate conducting similar campaigns when severe weather events are forecast and patients could be impacted.

  • Focus: Educational Resources to Help Patients

    Since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, patients have been playing an increasingly active role in health care decisions related to access, services and costs. We believe there is a need to educate patients and give them the tools to navigate the health care system, understand their health insurance options, explore preventive care options and ultimately, make informed decisions.

  • Helping People Navigate the Health Care System

    Navigating the health care system can be daunting for many patients, and patients need a medical neighborhood to ensure that they are getting complete and coordinated care. That is why CVS Health is collaborating with the nation’s eight leading family medicine organizations on Health is Primary, a three-year campaign designed to demonstrate the benefits of primary care while providing better-quality patient support at a lower cost. Through the partnership, we aim to educate patients about how different parts of the health care system play a role in keeping patients healthy, help them understand the resources available within the medical neighborhood, and provide guidance on when and where to access them.

  • Informing People about Their Insurance Options

    For the third year, CVS Health provided support to help customers understand their insurance options during the Marketplace open enrollment period. Created under the Affordable Care Act, the Marketplace facilitates the purchase of health insurance by individuals who cannot get coverage through their employer or Medicare. In collaboration with health insurers offering coverage through the Marketplace, we hosted more than 6,500 health insurance education events in CVS Pharmacy locations. These events included one-on-one conversations with representatives from a variety of health plans. We also provide materials on Medicare and the Marketplace – in both English and Spanish – available year-round in-store and online at

    We also provided eligible seniors with convenient and personalized Medicare Part D plan comparisons, based on the prescriptions they filled at CVS Pharmacy. Plan comparisons, done over the phone or using our online tool, take into account a number of factors, including premiums, deductibles and co-payments, the medications covered by a plan, and the pharmacies that are included in the geographic reach of each plan. Because Medicare Part D plans change every year and a patient’s prescription needs may also change, comparing Part D plans can save patients hundreds of dollars.

  • Raising Awareness about Preventive Care

    The Affordable Care Act is helping to shift the focus of health care from treatment to prevention. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates more than 130 million Americans now have private insurance coverage that includes preventive services without additional out-of-pocket costs. The challenge is getting patients to understand the importance and value of these preventive benefits so they can be used.

    In June 2015, in partnership with the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CVS Health began promoting the ‘myhealthfinder’ online tool to help increase awareness of preventive health services. Consumers using the myhealthfinder tool can enter age, gender, and a few other basic details about themselves to receive recommendations from government-recognized clinical experts for the personalized preventive services patients with their characteristics should receive. Many of the preventive services suggested by myhealthfinder, such as cholesterol screenings, wellness counseling, and routine vaccinations, are available at MinuteClinic and CVS Pharmacy locations, as well as physician's offices. Many are now covered by most insurance without additional co-pays or other cost sharing under the Affordable Care Act.

    CVS Health was the first national partner to promote the myhealthfinder tool outside of the HHS website, making it available on and at pilot of the platform conducted in May showed three times the traffic on the CVS Health sites, with more than 2.5 million visitors, compared to those accessing through the website. MinuteClinics in areas that were part of the pilot experienced a 26% increase in pneumococcal vaccine rates and a 5% increase in flu vaccinations.

  • Making Health Care Easy with Digital Apps

    Given how sophisticated and ubiquitous mobile technology has become, we are investing in digital technology to improve the health outcomes of our patients.

    Early in 2015, we launched an enhanced CVS Pharmacy mobile app, which has since been downloaded more than 12 million times. The app lets users refill prescriptions, learn whether a prescription has potential adverse reactions with other medications or influences, and access a pill identifier to see shape, color and imprint on the medication.

    In November 2015, we introduced a second suite of mobile tools designed to drive greater medication adherence.

Learn about our other strategic priorities within our Health in Action pillar:

Support for Patients with Chronic Disease

Patient and Customer Well-Being and Safety

Read the full report:

2015 CSR Report