Walgreen's offers free health care for jobless

Walgreen Co. is the latest company to use the tactic of helping the unemployed, offering free visits to its clinics for people who lose their jobs and don't have insurance.

From free dress shirts for job interviews, to printing resumes for free or offering to buy back the new car you just bought if you lose your job, many businesses are finding that it makes good business to offer deals or giveaways to the jobless.

Walgreen's Take Care health clinics will offer free visits for the rest of the year to adults who lose their jobs on or after March 31, according to a Reuters story. Spouses, domestic partners and children also qualify if they don't have their own health insurance. A certification form must be completed. Walgreen has a short video on the program.Quest Diagnostics Inc. is offering certain free laboratory tests, such as strep throat and urine cultures, in the "Take Care Recovery Plan." People must prove they are getting government unemployment benefits to qualify for the free visits.

According to the clinic's question and answer web page, the offer includes most services offered at the clinics, including for common family illnesses such as colds, cough, flu, upper respiratory conditions and minor skin conditions. It doesn't apply to healthcare services outside of Take Care Clinics. It also doesn't include wellness services provided at the clinics, such as physicals, vaccinations and health evaluations.

Getting health care is one of the first things the newly unemployed worry about when losing their job. It's one of the main reasons why I continue looking for full-time work after being laid off nine months ago. Other than housing, it's one of the most expensive costs for a family, and few part-time jobs offer health care coverage.

The Walgreen program, and others that help the unemployed, are commendable, and I can see the long-term benefit to businesses that try to help out their customers. Hopefully when the recession ends someday, these offers will remain for people who continue to be out of work.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net
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