CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, is testing a membership program called CarePass to members in Boston that offers additional benefits to the company's ExtraCare Rewards Program. The new loyalty program is being compared to Amazon.com's Amazon Prime. CVS will charge CarePass members $5 monthly or $48 for a full year, which includes free one-day or two-day delivery on certain prescription drugs and purchases, with no minimum amount required; 24/7 access to a pharmacist helpline; special discounts and coupons; $10 monthly to spend in its stores; among other perks. Customers can now enroll in CarePass at more than 350 participating CVS Pharmacy locations throughout Greater Boston or online at CVS.com/carepass, with the goal to expand the program nationally, according to CVS spokesperson Erin Pensa.
Total Retail's Take: CVS is positioning itself to better compete with Amazon as on the online giant prepares to enter the pharmacy space following its acquisition of online pharmacy startup PillPack. While there's likely good reason for CVS to be concerned — it will need to match the convenience and ease with which consumers can shop on Amazon, including delivery — some experts believe the news is healthy for the industry. "CVS is opening up the healthcare delivery business to competition, which ought to result in lower costs," notes John Sarich, vice president of strategy at VUE Software, a firm that specializes in automating business processes for the insurance industry. Sarich added that CVS’ delivery program highlights the U.S. Postal Service as its delivery partner, and "direct delivery via USPS is a shot across the bow of Amazon."