Sometimes, following health care news developments is like wading into a crowd of fighting five-year-olds: You don’t know what caused the problem or where the next punch is coming from, but it’s sad and ridiculous anyway.
That’s my feelings on the dispute between Walgreens and Express Script.
Express Scripts, you may not know, is a health care middleman: they contract with health insurers and the like, and contract with drug stores on the other end, and provide payments to the drug stores for the prescriptions people buy. How a company like that even EXISTS is beyond me: what benefits do they provide to the world for doing what they do?
They must provide SOME benefit, right? Because Express Scripts’ profits are growing at about double the rate of all other health-care industry businesses. So they’re doing SOMETHING, but is that something really good for people (which is, of course, supposed to be the point of the “health care” “industry.”)
What Express Scripts seems to be doing is peeling off (as Sherman McCoy’s wife would put it) the crumbs from the golden cake: wedging itself into the middle and demanding profits. It’s a Profit Troll, a phrase I just made up but which I like: a company that provides no real benefit but demands money.
And how it’s demanding money! Express Scripts recently in its negotiations for a new contract with Walgreen’s wasn’t willing to accept Walgreen’s offers to keep its rates flat and to ensure lowest prices for Tricare; no, Express Scripts wanted more power and more money and so as a result, Walgreen’s and Express Scripts aren’t in business anymore.
That means for you that you either pay higher prices at your local Walgreen’s and Duane Reed, or you have to go to a new pharmacy where nobody knows you and it’s farther away. And for military families, who get their insurance through Tricare, what it means is that you’re not guaranteed the lowest prices for prescriptions. Thanks for risking your lives for defending Express Scripts’ demands for obscene profits!
Walgreen’s is at least doing something. They’re letting people enroll in their Walgreens Prescription Savings Club for a discount for January:
So $10 will get a whole family in ($5 for one person), and that’ll get you discounts on 8,000 different brand-name medications, plus low prices on generics and Walgreen’s discounts on flu shots, pet scripts, nebulizers and other things. Members also get bonuses for using other Walgreen’s services, like photofinishing, so you can continue to save on medications and still do one-stop shopping at your local pharmacy.
With every OTHER problem health care faced, this is unnecessary, and you should pick sides, like me: Stick up for Walgreen’s: Like Walgreens on Facebook and follow Walgreens on Twitter (@Walgreens), and help make things better.