According to reports, as many as 2.1 million Americans signed up for new insurance coverage that went into effect Jan. 1. However, even though these newly insured people had coverage, what they perhaps didn't have was the identification card to process claims, such as prescriptions, for example. But don't worry, retail pharmacy was fast to the rescue, offering those 2.1 million patients who had obtained insurance through a health exchange the benefit of the doubt and a 30-day supply of their prescriptions at no upfront cost once their coverage was verified.
Ever notice when there's a crisis in health care, retail pharmacy comes out with a viable solution? Because without this solution, many newly covered patients may have been faced with the full cost of their prescriptions until those ID cards came in the mail.
However, instead of taking a risk that many of these newly covered patients may be nonadherent until they received their card, the retail pharmacy industry stepped up in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is supposed to be all about improving adherence to begin with.
There were a number of pharmacy chains and independents who announced their support of the new patients:
- Maintaining adherence is exactly why CVS/pharmacy began offering new exchange customers a transitional or "bridge" supply of medication to support their continuity of care with the New Year;
- Regional operator Kinney Drugs, which operates 99 stores in central and northern New York and adjacent areas of Vermont, similarly promised to provide 30-day supplies of medicines to health exchange patients without an ID card;
- Kroger assists patients in navigating through new plan transitions every January. This January in particular, Kroger joined many other pharmacy operations in offering certain prescriptions at no upfront cost;
- Helping patients is par for the course, especially across independent pharmacy operators, noted the National Community Pharmacists Association. “Helping patients sort through new or revised health insurance coverage is business-as-usual for independent community pharmacies year-round, and especially each January," said Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO;
- "Every pharmacist knows how important it is for people to take their medications as prescribed, without any interruption," Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said in announcing that Rite Aid would also provide certain 30-day prescriptions at no charge to eligible patients;
- Walgreens was actively reaching out to insurance companies' operations groups for nightly eligibility file updates on health insurance marketplace plan enrollees to help ensure Walgreens pharmacy teams have the most up-to-date coverage information; and
- Walmart first acknowledge its pharmacies would offer prescriptions at no upfront cost to patients who enroll in the public health insurance marketplace on New Year's Eve.