Walgreen giving free care to jobless and uninsured
© 2009 The Associated Press
March 31, 2009, 7:58AM
NEW YORK —
Drugstore operator Walgreen will offer free clinic visits to the
unemployed and uninsured for the rest of the year, providing
tests and routine treatment for minor ailments through its
walk-in clinics — though patients will still pay for
Walgreen said patients who lose their job and
health insurance after March 31 will be able to get free
treatment at its in-store Take Care clinics for respiratory
problems, allergies, infections and skin conditions, among other
ailments. Typically those treatments cost $59 or more for
patients with no insurance.
Hal Rosenbluth, chairman of the Take Care
Health Systems division, described the plan as something close
to an experiment: He said Walgreen isn't sure of patient demand
or how much providing the services might cost the company.
It's likely to generate more attention for the
clinics, however. Rosenbluth said a typical Take Care patient
tells eight other people about his or her experience. So far,
about 30 percent of Take Care patients were new customers to
The program is expected to last through
the end of 2009. Walgreen runs 341 Take Care clinics in 35
markets around the country, including
Free services will be offered only from 11
a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walgreen said it will not
offer free checkups, vaccinations or other injections because it
is focusing on providing services patients might otherwise get
at an urgent-care center or even an emergency room.
Patients must present proof they are
unemployed, including a federal or state unemployment
determination letter and an unemployment check stub. They will
have to sign a form at the clinic saying they have lost their
jobs and health benefits. If they find a new job or get new
health insurance, they will no longer be eligible for free care.
Spouses and children are also eligible for
free services if they don't have insurance of their own.
Medical lab operator Quest Diagnostics is
participating in the program by offering free tests for step
throat and urinary tract infections.
Walgreen bought the Take Care clinics in May
2007. Take Care says it has seen about 1.2 million patients
since its launch in November 2005 and estimates that up to 30
percent of them were uninsured.