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Empire BlueCross and Empire BlueCross BlueShield Collaborate With CVS Pharmacy to Increase Access to Health Products

Empire BlueCross and Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) announced today that, beginning January 2019, consumers enrolled in its Medicare Advantage health plans will be able to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medications and health-related products at CVS Pharmacy stores using their health plan’s allowance. The addition of CVS Pharmacy to Empire’s network of OTC retailers is part of the company’s continued commitment of making healthcare simpler for consumers and improving their health and well-being.

“Creating an enhanced healthcare experience for New Yorkers and giving them easier access to the products and services that aid consumers in leading healthier lives requires us to develop meaningful solutions for the individuals enrolled in our plans,” said Tomas Orozco, President of Empire’s Medicare business. “We are pleased to work together with CVS Pharmacy because we share the common goal of helping individuals manage their health in more effective ways. We believe that collaborations like this can make a tremendous difference for consumers who often are managing chronic medical conditions.”

With more than 490 stores in New York State, CVS Pharmacy provides a convenient shopping option for consumers enrolled in Empire’s Medicare Advantage plans. CVS Pharmacy carries a wide assortment of products and solutions that help consumers get well and stay well, including first aid supplies, support braces, pain relievers, and more. To use their OTC allowance at CVS Pharmacy, individuals must purchase the OTC medications and health-related items in-store.

“CVS Pharmacy is pleased to partner with Empire BlueCross and Empire BlueCross BlueShield to offer plan consumers increased access to the products they need to care for themselves,” said Emmanuel Kolady, Division Vice President, CVS Pharmacy. “This collaboration ensures that Empire Medicare Advantage plan consumers are able to purchase medications and other health-related products at one of hundreds of CVS Pharmacy locations in New York, helping them achieve their best health.”

Many of Empire’s 2019 Medicare Advantage plans offer a significant OTC allowance – as much as $960 annually. These types of benefits can be important to older adults who are often on a fixed income. According to the Social Security Administration, nearly a quarter of married seniors and four out of 10 unmarried older adults rely on their Social Security benefit, which averages just over $1,400 a month, for at least 90 percent of their income.

Empire also collaborates with other retailers to give consumers increased access to OTC medications and health-related products through the use of a plan’s OTC allowance. If a consumer would like to use one of these other retailers, the company will work with him/her to find the option that best fits his/her needs.

Empire BlueCross BlueShield is a plan (HMO and LPPO) with a Medicare contract. Empire BlueCross is an HMO DSNP plan with a Medicare contract and a coordination of benefits agreement with the New York State Department of Health.

About Empire BlueCross BlueShield

Empire BlueCross (Empire) is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc. and Empire BlueCross HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc. independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Additional information about Empire is available at Also, follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook at

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Last Updated: 14-Jan-2019