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Safeway Partners with Health Care Insurers on New Medicare Prescription Drug Education Program; Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Health Net and PacifiCare to Offer Customer Assistance at Safeway Stores Throughout the U.S.

PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Safeway Inc. (NYSE:SWY) announced today a new strategic alliance with major health care insurers to assist Safeway customers with information about the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Partners include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Health Net and PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. In addition, Safeway and Safeway-owned pharmacies will carry information about the health care insurers' own prescription plans designed especially for the Medicare Part D program.

"Our relationship with the most respected health care insurers in the country will help our customers understand the new Medicare prescription drug program so they can make the best, most informed decisions for their own needs," said David Fong, Safeway Senior Vice President of Pharmacy.

Working with the health care insurers, Safeway has agreed to provide brochures and other literature at pharmacies and conduct co-sponsored educational outreach, including one-on-one consultations, at most pharmacy locations. Prescriptions can be filled at all Safeway pharmacies as well as any of the respective health care insurers' participating pharmacies.

Safeway operates 1,148 pharmacies in its Safeway, Vons, Carrs, Dominick's, Genuardi's, Pak 'n Save, Pavilions, Randalls and Tom Thumb stores.

Due to the large number of prescription drug plan options available to beneficiaries, such guidance is vital to help ensure that they understand the new coverage and are prepared to make an informed decision.

These strategic alliances are designed to better meet the needs of Medicare beneficiaries, who can receive new benefits beginning January 1, 2006.

ABOUT SAFEWAY

Safeway Inc. is a Fortune 50 company and one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America based on sales. The company operates 1,800 stores in the United States and Canada and had annual sales of $35.6 billion in 2004. The company's common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SWY.

ABOUT BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF ILLINOIS AND TEXAS

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Texas is making Medicare Part D products available through HCSC Insurance Services Company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company. These companies are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and offer or provide services for Medicare Part D products under HCSC Insurance Services Company's contract S5715 with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company (HCSC), is the oldest and largest health insurance company in the state. Currently, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois provide health insurance coverage for more than 6.5 million people.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is the only statewide, non-investor owned health coverage provider in Texas, serving more than 4 million members in all 254 counties. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company. (SM) Service Mark of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an Association of Independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.

ABOUT HEALTH NET

Health Net, Inc. is among the nation's largest publicly traded managed health care companies. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and comfortable. The company's HMO, POS, insured PPO and government contracts subsidiaries provide health benefits to approximately 6.4 million individuals in 27 states and the District of Columbia through group, individual, Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE programs.

Health Net's behavioral health services subsidiary, MHN, provides behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance programs (EAPs) to approximately 7.3 million individuals in various states, including the company's own health plan members. The company's subsidiaries also offer managed health care products related to prescription drugs, and offer managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers and administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits programs.

ABOUT PACIFICARE

PacifiCare Health Systems is one of the nation's largest consumer health organizations with nearly 3.3 million health plan members and approximately 11.3 million specialty plan members nationwide. PacifiCare offers individuals, employers and Medicare beneficiaries a variety of consumer-driven health care and life insurance products.

Today, PacifiCare is the nation's second-largest senior health insurance company with more than 20 years' experience delivering affordable, quality health care coverage to America's seniors. PacifiCare's specialty plan operations include behavioral health and dental and vision, as well as complete pharmacy benefit management with more than a decade of experience specializing in the senior prescription-drug market. More information on PacifiCare Health Systems is available at www.pacificare.com.
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Comment:Safeway Partners with Health Care Insurers on New Medicare Prescription Drug Education Program; Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Health Net and PacifiCare to Offer Customer Assistance at Safeway Stores Throughout the U.S.
Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 28, 2005
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