Walgreens’ and Walmart’s pharmacies announced this month that they will help with the botched Obamacare rollout by providing free prescriptions to customers whose insurance coverage is pending. The move, while well-intentioned, only helps those possessing a prescription, leaving anyone still seeking a doctor’s assistance stranded.
The policies of both corporations this month were simple: those who can prove they signed up for Obamacare through HealthCare.gov and have a prescription can file it for free, even as they are not yet covered because of the system’s inefficiency. The problem is that to have a prescription, patients must go to a doctor, and their pending insurance applications mean they will have to either handle the full cost of a visit themselves. If they wait until their application is no longer pending, they are not eligible to receive the benefits from the pharmacies’ programs.
Walgreens was the first pharmacy service to announce that they would pitch in. Speaking to Breitbart News, a spokesperson for Walgreens confirmed that the corporation unilaterally made the decision to enact the temporary policy, but when asked whether they were in communication with the government responded that the corporation intends to be “in consistent and frequent communication with various groups… we are working with them to flag any systematic issues that we may see.”
The relationship between Walmart and the Obama White House is more complicated. Walmart’s spokesperson would not provide any specifics regarding whether there were discussions between public and private leaders on the matter, and the history between the two sides shows neither clear loyalty nor antagonism. President Obama has appointed Walmart leaders to various positions of power. The company–a major seller of guns in some parts of the United States–has joined with the NRA to negotiate safer gun sales with the administration as well. Because both Walmart and Walgreens have stated they will help customers with figuring out whether their registrations are processing and with any questions they may have about the federal program, it seems impossible that the avenues of communication are closed.
Walgreens explained to Breitbart News that their program will require only two pieces of information beyond what any customer would normally show: a legal prescription and proof that they have signed up for a plan under the Affordable Care Act and are waiting for their insurance information. Even for customers who do not have that confirmation information, Walgreens tells Breitbart News that the pharmacies will attempt to contact the government to find proof on their end that the person is soon to be covered.They cannot, however, help anyone without a prescription.
That requirement creates a hurdle that may be too high for those left stranded by HealthCare.gov’s failures: finding a doctor they can afford without insurance to give them a prescription they can fill.
The Walmart service creates a similar problem, as their program requires the same documentation. Those who will have the easiest job are customers with a prescription already on file who need a refill or those who receive prescriptions from doctors at community clinics or other social benefit organizations that provide medical care. For those who need their doctors to give them a prescription–or for those with an acute illness that lands them in the hospital and needs a prescription to be treated–they will have to pay the doctor out of pocket. Yet Walgreens and Walmart are doing the absolute most that private industry can do to try to fix the Obamacare mess: providing free medicine out of the companies’ pockets to compensate for government bureaucratic incompetence.
Asked about the potential for dead ends for patients who are now barred from seeing their doctors until their Affordable Care Act applications go through, Walgreens told Breitbart News that they hope they will see doctors also pitch in to help those who need prescriptions. Indeed, it is possible that many doctors will refuse to see their patients suffer because of the sudden deprivation of coverage Obamacare has brought them and take an economic hit themselves, but such a proposal highlights how profoundly this law has corrupted and penetrated the fiber of our health care infrastructure.