I got a press release today about the Walgreens Take Care clinics offering free health care to people who are laid off between March 31st and the end of the year, and went looking for more information. Michelle Andrews at On Health & Money has some more details about the program that I didn’t see reported in the mainstream news articles.
All in all, this looks like a good deal for everyone involved. The Take Care clinics will get widespread name recognition (already, these news reports are probably driving traffic to the clinics, in the form of people who might not have even been aware of their existance). In addition, it’s likely that if people get good service at a Take Care clinic while unemployed, they may return again later as a paying customer.
For people who have lost their jobs and don’t have health insurance, any opportunity for free health care will help. And even if they have to visit the clinic as a paying patient in order to be eligible for free services, it’s noteworthy that the fee at the Take Care clinics normally starts at $59. This is quite a bit less than a typical office visit charge for someone without health insurance negotiated rates.
For emergency rooms and urgent care clinics (where services are not free, but payment is often hard to collect), the free services at the Take Care clinics might help to alleviate some of the overcrowding and full waiting rooms.
The tactic of requiring that a patient have visited a Take Care clinic in the past in order to be eligible for the free health care program is a good marketing move. It’s laudable that the clinics are offering free health care at all, and obviously they have to structure this in such a way that they don’t end up driving themselves out of business in the process. By requiring that a patient (who might think that a job/health insurance loss is on the horizon) come in for a paid visit first, the clinics will likely boost their revenue in the early phase of this program. Time will tell how much free health care gets handed out at the clinics over the rest of the year, but my guess is that it will be a considerable amount.
Take Care clinics operate in 32 metro areas across the country. I went to their location finder web page and found 12 clinics in Colorado in the Denver/Boulder area, including one just around the corner from us here in Broomfield.