Walgreen's latest effort isaimed at delivering lower prescription drug costs and moreconvenient access to medications for seniors.

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One might—and would—expect such a move from Walgreens, butKroger's expansion further into health care might give an onlookerpause.

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Still, that onlooker would have to have been pretty oblivious toother efforts to incorporate health care pockets within otherbusinesses. But Walgreen's partnering with United Healthcare to openUnitedHealthcare Medicare services centers within Walgreens storesin five metropolitan areas also involves collaboration between thetwo companies and new AARP Medicare Advantage Walgreens plans fromUnitedHealthcare.

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Related: Walmart expanding its retail clinicofferings

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That effort is aimed at delivering lower prescription drug costsand more convenient access to medications for seniors—who can alsomake an appointment for an in-store annual wellness visit at theMedicare services center in Walgreens through UnitedHealthcare'sHouseCalls program. The UnitedHealthcare Medicare services centerswill begin to open in January 2020 at Walgreens stores in the LasVegas, Phoenix, Cleveland, Denver and Memphis markets.

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Meanwhile, Kroger's 360care is, according to a Kroger release,an initiative that enables "hospitals and health care networks toleverage Kroger resources to provide broader access and value-basedhealth care for their patients." According to the Louisville Business First, the supermarketchain already has more than 2,000 pharmacies, as well as 215 LittleClinic locations in stores in nine states, including Kentucky,Indiana and Ohio.

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Altogether, Kroger has 2,759 stores in 35 states, but thisrecent partnership with a Tennessee hospital and health carenetwork expands their services—and more such arrangements withother health care networks are planned.

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Ascension Saint Thomas Health operates 97 practice sites withmore than 500 physicians and advanced practitioners. Kroger has 116pharmacies and 40 clinics in Tennessee. The supermarket's existingclinics, according to the report, "offer licensed medical careinvolving a variety of services, including cold and flu treatments,vaccinations, screenings, sports physicals and ongoing healthmanagement" in locations that are open seven days a week. Inaddition, customers can access services from registered dietitiansand nutrition techs.

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"If we in grocery are truly going to improve health outcomesbeyond screenings, were going to have to get in deep with howpatients are living their life," Jim Kirby, Kroger's seniordirector of pharmacy services, said in August. "This is somethingthat we really harp on at Kroger. We have to engage every patient,every time."

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.