NEW YORK — Safeway has begun launching its new health care services consulting division, the company said at a financial conference here yesterday. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference, Steve Burd, chairman president and chief executive officer, Safeway, said the new service could become bigger than its nascent private-label marketing business and its new small-store format. It is based on an internal cost-cutting program Safeway rolled out to its own non-union employees and emphasizes providing strong incentives for workers to better manage their health and select cheaper options for care. “If you design a health care plan where behavior really matters, people actually respond, just like they respond to gas prices and food prices, and they actually change their behavior,” Burd said, noting that the program could cut a company’s pharmacy costs by 30% in 12 weeks. A Safeway spokesman told SN the health care initiative, called Safeway Health, has not yet had a "formal launch" and was "still in the very early stages." "We are in discussions with some potential clients," said Brian Dowling, the spokesman.
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