Pharmacy chain Rite Aid is testing a new customer rewards program called Wellness+ in four markets and promises to roll it out nationwide soon, according to its web site. The card offers standard benefits—it’s free to sign up, customers earn points and get percentages off of Rite Aid brand products, coupons flow freely in the mail and so on. But one of the new so-called “benefits” is earning points toward free health screenings. When a cardholder racks up 500 points—or spends $500 on non-prescription products, since one point is worth one dollar—he will receive a certificate that can be used for free health screenings, such as glucose and cholesterol readings. The program also give 25 points per prescription filled, but doesn’t include prescriptions paid for in whole or in part by state or federal
health care programs, like Medicare or Medicaid. But isn’t it safe to assume that people spending $500 at the pharmacy or filling 20 prescriptions are already screened? Who exactly is this “benefit” supposed to benefiting?
With the American health care system in a state of disarray and pharmacies like Walgreens stepping up to fill the affordable health care void with inexpensive health care screenings and advice, what is Rite Aid getting at? It seems that first-step screenings that are so important to customer health should come more often than when $500 is spent on toilet paper and a Kit-Kat bar.
The program has a few good points: the 10% off of Rite Aid brand products will help those who are struggling financially with the basics, and the program gives participants 24/7 access to a Rite Aid pharmacist through a 1-800 number. But rewarding more affluent customers who can afford to spend $500 on non-prescription items or are constantly filling prescriptions doesn’t seem like the best way to promote public health. Real innovation here would be free screenings for poverty-line customers, or at least a move realistic point offering.
[via The Buffalo News]