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Free Lyft to the Pharmacy

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Institute has started a partnership with the ride sharing company Lyft to provide their members with free rides to pick up their medications. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute is a new organization that’s mission is to reduce the barriers of accessing healthcare. One of the largest identified barriers to accessing healthcare is transportation. Last year, their big initiative was a similar program with Lyft to provide free transportation for their patients to their doctors’ appointments. By investing in these types of programs, the organization is hoping to reduce costs in the long -term and improve the health outcomes of their consumers. With this newest imitative they are also partnering with pharmaceutical organization such as CVS Health and Walgreens to increase medication adherence. These programs are still under pilot testing and are currently funded by CVS and Walgreens in Chicago and Pittsburgh with patients who are living in “transportation deserts”. These types of unique partnerships are allowing for creative solutions and addressing the social determinants of health in order to solve the most dire healthcare problems. Let’s hope to see more of these types of collaborations in the future.

References

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2018/03/14/cvs-and-walgreens-partner-with-lyft-to-get-blue-cross-patients-to-pharmacies/#34f4fa0f76c8

https://www.bcbs.com/news/press-releases/blue-cross-and-blue-shield-and-lyft-join-forces-increase-access-health-care

  • Crystal

    This is wonderful! I hadn’t even heard that they were sponsoring a program to take people to doctor’s appointments, so this was doubly-good news to me.

  • Casey

    Great idea! I recently heard about another start-up that involves giving cancer patients a free ride to treatment. Transportation is an important issues that we must address to provide optimal healthcare, especially in rural communities.

  • Josh Boegner

    This is fascinating! I think that it is a great resource to help those obtain prescriptions who would not otherwise be able to do so. I worry about what future implications could be though, in my mind I picture people calling a lyft instead of an ambulance to take them for emergency care due to perceived cost barriers. I think this is an excellent short term solution, but that we should continue to focus on ways to make health care more accessible and affordable for all. Thanks for the insight!

  • Matthew Johnson

    I can’t help but immediately think that it would be more efficient and useful (especially for patients with mobility issues, etc.) to have the medications delivered to their homes instead of getting a free Lyft to the pharmacy. I’ve heard about the free rides to doctor’s appointments though, which seems more necessary and important, since you actually have to be present at your doctor’s appointment but don’t have to be present to receive medication.

    To Josh’s point, I think these are separate issues. Taking Lyft instead of an ambulance for emergency care because of cost barriers is about the exorbitant costs of medical care in our country. Lyft is likely considerably cheaper than an ambulance already, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is already happening. However, I don’t think Lyft offering free rides to get medications or to go to medical visits is going to increase or decrease the phenomenon of people taking ride services for emergency care. In the long run, I would hope that it might decrease some people waiting to go to emergency care instead of regular medical care since they would have easier access to regular medical care. Of course, doctors offices themselves or a related service could provide free rides to people for medical appointments as well and ambulance rides should be free, but I’m not seeing the causation for this service impacting ambulance use.