Food and drug retailer Hy-Vee recently added a new dimension to its health care operations with the launch of Vivid Clear Rx, a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM). Leading the new subsidiary as Vivid Clear Rx president is Mike Agostino, who serves as senior vice president of pharmacy business development at West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee.
Based in Omaha, Neb., Vivid Clear Rx will offer Hy-Vee’s more than 88,000 employees as well as other employers a menu of flexible, affordable PBM services, powered by health technology provider RxSense. The goal is to help businesses optimize their health care investment by providing employees with the best benefits at the best value.
“The catalyst to create and have our own PBM as a subsidiary to Hy-Vee was, frankly, the size of Hy-Vee,” Agostino said in an SN Off the Shelf podcast. “We’re over 80,000 employees, we’re a self-insured employer group and, frankly, it was time. It was time to service our own employees and really wrap our arms around the benefit that we offer our employees.”
Plans call for Boston-based RxSense to provide Vivid Clear Rx with a full-service suite of PBM modules that will supplement existing Hy-Vee health care assets. The Midwestern retailer operates about 270 in-store and freestanding pharmacies across its eight-state market area, providing a full range of pharmacy care, immunization and wellness services. The company also has more than 70 in-store health clinics and operates two specialty pharmacies, Amber Pharmacy and Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions.
“This isn’t just a PBM just for a network of hybrid retail stores,” Agostino noted. “Our PBM has agreements with the Hy-Vee retail portion of our company and with our specialty [pharmacy] subisidiaries as well. We also are contracted with approximately 57,000 total pharmacies. So we have access clear across the country.”
Though PBMs have been the subject of much ire in the pharmacy sector, with many industry stakeholders calling for stronger regulation, Agostino noted that Vivid Clear Rx will make transparency one of its hallmarks.
“We didn’t want to come to market as a ‘me-too.’ I don’t think the market can tolerate another me-too. One thing that we have learned, based upon market feedback, is that regardless of the size of the [benefit] group, can someone just tell me where my money is going? How am I paying, what is it going to and then what are you doing, PBM, to help control and manage my costs? So there lies the rise of our positioning statement, ‘clear intentions, clear savings,’ ” he said.
“At the end of the day, it’s about having relationships with clients that proactively show the cost associated with managing one’s benefit,”Agostino added, “and then working with clients to make sure that they are as informed as possible to help them make the right decisions for their employees.”