CVS ramps up its health offerings
American Diabetes Month is underway, and as of Thursday, CVS is offering free health screenings in 27 cities.
Glucose tests are but one option in CVS’ menu of free health services. November is the kickoff of to a four-month run where shoppers can come in for BMI (body mass index), cholesterol and blood pressure tests as well. The program also offers insurance primers to better inform patients of how to navigate the federal health-care marketplace.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t that I was a little nervous,” says Strategic Diversity Management Director Dawn-Marie Gray. Project Health, now eight years old, is taking on 12 more cities than it did in 2013. “At this point between now and February, we’re going to deliver more than 1,400 events.”
The program’s expansion arrives at a time when CVS has been asserting its stance as a health center more aggressively. Officially changing its corporate name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health this September, the chain eliminated tobacco products from its stock, a move that will cost the company some $2 billion annually. Last week, CVS announced an in-store fundraising drive for national charity Stand Up to Cancer. Project Health also offers patients interested in giving up cigarettes the opportunity to enroll in smoking cessation counseling.
“A lot of people would focus more on the front store, where you can buy candy, or magazines or a birthday card,” Gray says of the company’s best-known features. “[These people] never really focus on the pharmacy, although that is the bulk of our business.” CVS currently has 7,800 pharmacies and 900 clinics.
Project Health has a long targeted patients of color, first Latinos, then later both Latinos and African Americans. Gray points out that diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure all affect blacks at higher rates. The uninsured also represent larger segments of black and Hispanic communities than their white counterparts. A May Gallup report revealed that Obamacare contributed to a 7 percent dip in the uninsured rate of African Americans (13.8), placing it just above the national average (13.4). The uninsured rate for white Americans was 9 percent and for Latinos 33.2 percent. From January to March of this year, according to a CVS executive, 47 percent of Project Health patients reported having no form of coverage. CVS reports having provided close to 730,000 shoppers with services through Project Health so far, with the combined value of the screenings, counseling and insurance advisory totaling more than $72 million.
“One of the things that needs to happen for there to be some movement on health disparities is … for people to understand their status, know their risk and, hopefully, start taking action,” Gray says.
Twenty-nine percent of Project Health participants had abnormal glucose readings when tested, reports CVS. Interested in a reading for yourself or a loved one? Here is a list of the program’s 27 cities below:
New York City