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wags giving free clinic visits to jobless and uninsured

NEW YORK (AP) — 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 prescriptions.
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.

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.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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