Pharmacies to help Obamacare enrollees without ID cards

January 6, 2014

More than one million Americans have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but many are having difficulty using their coverage because they have not received plan identification numbers from insurers. To aid those in such situations, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Kroger, and other large and small pharmacies are offering a limited amount of medications at no upfront cost.

More than one million Americans have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but many are having difficulty using their coverage because they have not received plan identification numbers from insurers. To aid those in such situations, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Kroger, and other large and small pharmacies are offering a limited amount of medications at no upfront cost.

Walgreens was the first to announce such a plan. It is providing up to one month of traditional, brand, and generic medications at no upfront cost. Patients must bring confirmation of their enrollment in the public health insurance marketplace to receive a limited supply of medications.

“We understand that all the changes that come with healthcare reform may create some questions for newly enrolled individuals,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens’ president of pharmacy, health, and wellness. “We are deeply committed to helping these patients get, stay, and live well by helping them to get their medications without interruption.”

Wal-Mart, meanwhile, announced that it will also provide a month's supply of certain prescriptions at no upfront cost to ACA enrollees who do not have plan identification numbers.

Walgreens may have been the first to announce its intentions to serve Obamacare enrollees who have not received plan identification cards, but numerous pharmacies quickly followed suite.

Kroger also announced similar plans. "Every January, our pharmacists and technicians help customers navigate through new plan transitions. It is part of our commitment to the health and wellness of the communities we serve," said Lincoln Lutz, Kroger's vice president of pharmacy. "Our pharmacists are once again available to answer questions and provide information about the new insurance plans. And, to ensure that our customers can get their medications without interruption, we are offering to fill certain prescriptions at no upfront cost for up to 30 days for customers who have signed up for the public health exchanges but have not yet received their plan ID card."

The National Community Pharmacists Association issued a statement saying its members will also work with Obamacare enrollees navigating the new system. “Helping patients sort through new or revised health insurance coverage is business-as-usual for independent community pharmacies year-round and especially each January. Now more than ever that is the case with the advent of these new health plans,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. “While health plans are the payer of first resort for the newly insured, most independent community pharmacists will provide emergency medication supplies, when appropriate, to their patients confirmed with new insurance coverage through the marketplaces, so that these patients don’t fall through the cracks.”