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Walmart Rx Plan Not Good Enough For AP

From a laughably Walmart-phobic Associated Press:

Walmart drug plan for seniors may not be best deal

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press
November 16, 2010

WASHINGTON – Consumer alert: A new Medicare drug plan with the lowest upfront cost in the country may not be for everyone, experts say.

Remember, this is supposed to be a news article.

Medicare’s open enrollment season just started, and the plan from insurer Humana and retail giant Walmart is getting attention. At $14.80, the monthly premium is the lowest of any national plan, about half the average. And Humana and Walmart are advertising savings of more than $450 a year for the typical Medicare recipient.

That sure sounds outrageous. We can’t have this!

But experts say if you can’t get to a Walmart easily and need costly medications for intractable conditions, it could be a disappointment. You could face copayments as high as 50 percent for drugs purchased at local independent drugstores, "non-preferred" pharmacies as far as the plan goes

Plan members can choose to fill their prescriptions at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, but only about 4,000 — Walmart, Sam’s Club or Neighborhood Market stores — are "preferred," and offer the lowest copayments.

In other words, you have to actually go to a Walmart pharmacy to get the biggest discount. That really is unfair. (Of course, the only place where this would be any kind of hardship would be in New York City where there are no Walmarts.)

Oh well, let’s just forget the whole thing and pay higher premiums and two times more for medications.

[Jack Hoadley, a research professor at the Georgetown Health Policy Institute], who in an earlier government career helped lay the groundwork for the Medicare drug benefit, said he believes regulators should take a second look at the network. Residents of metro areas, for example, may have to drive miles to find a preferred drugstore. Consumer advocates say that’s unusual…

Regulators should look at the network? Because people might have to drive to find a Walmart? What a laugh.

Instead, the regulators should look at why the unions have been able to keep Walmarts out of metro areas, like New York City.

At the Medicare Rights Center, seniors are calling the consumer hotline with questions about the Walmart plan.

"They are asking why it is so much cheaper," said Joe Baker, president of the New York-based advocacy group. "One reason is this limited pharmacy network, and that’s one thing they should think carefully about."

"For many people, there are probably plans with higher premiums that are a better deal, because their drug is included, and their pharmacy is included, and they face fewer restrictions," said Vicki Gottlich, a senior policy analyst with another consumer group, the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington.

The loudest complaints are coming from local pharmacists, who see the Humana Walmart plan as unfair competition. The National Community Pharmacists Association says it violates the "spirit and intent" of Medicare rules.

"It’s kind of like a beginning of a race to the bottom," said John Coster, a pharmacist turned lobbyist for the group…

Notice that suddenly the AP is taking the side of the lobbyists for ‘Big Pharma.’ Why is that? Do they really hate and fear Walmart that much?

Medicare’s analysis found that the number of drugs covered exceeds the average for all prescription plans, said spokesman Peter Ashkenaz. But the list of preferred pharmacies is limited.

Limited to Walmart and Walmart-owned stores. Big deal.

"For some beneficiaries who don’t have access to a Walmart, or don’t go to Walmart, this may not be the best plan for them," said Ashkenaz. Open enrollment started Monday and runs through Dec. 31.

Gosh having a choice is a terrible thing, at least according to the Associated Press. Especially, when it is from evil Walmart.

But think back. Was the AP even slightly skeptical about Obama-care? Of course it wasn’t.

Still, what a preposterous article this is, even by the AP’s standards. Their problems with this plan finally boil down to the terrible fact that you have to go to a Walmart to get the best deals.

Our media’s Walmart-phobia is simply out of control.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

13 Responses to “Walmart Rx Plan Not Good Enough For AP”

  1. Kaffeesatz says:

    This is outrageous! Imagine the nerve of a huge corporation forcing individuals to buy certain insurance coverage, even if it does not meet their needs. It is shocking that Wal*Mart would be so brazen as to force other, smaller competitors out of the market by using its monopoly power to compel people to buy from them at higher prices.

    Good thing the government is here to offer the poor citizens a cheaper, better alternative that they can choose or decline freely.

    Oh, wait. I have that backwards.

    It seems that Wal*Mart cannot force you to buy from them, and only the Federal Government has the power to order you to buy certain insurance. And it is the government that is forcing companies out of the private insurance markets..

    So, Wal*Mart is offering a cheaper alternative that people can buy on the free market, and the ‘experts’ are outraged. Hmm..

  2. bobdog says:

    I wonder who paid AP to run this story. It certainly isn’t news reporting.

  3. robertj says:

    But, even the AP “news story” admits that the Walmart-Humana plan offers mail order. So their, “Walmart drug plan for seniors may not be best deal” story may not be correct.

  4. GetBackJack says:

    I’m confused.

    Just Say No To Drugs is the anthem of schools across the land, but drugs handed out by pharmacies is okay?

    I feel whipsawed.

  5. proreason says:

    Like buying a Volt, I don’t mind in the least paying double for prescription drugs if my betters recommend it.

    I only have so many brain cells, and I need to reserve my serious thinking for Dancing with the Stars and Jersey Shore.

    And besides, even though the recommendations cost outrageously more, I know that those companies are donating big-time to the smartest man who has ever been in the White House (except when he’s travelling, golfing, playing basketball, on vacation or date nights or giving speeches and other stuff).

  6. David says:

    So to summarize. The plan offered by Walmart, at Walmart may not be a good deal for people who don’t/can’t go to Walmart. Next up in news, why gas in low tax states is not a good deal for people in high gas tax states can’t drive there to get it.

  7. Right of the People says:

    Everyone knows that WalMart is the evil empire and if they are offering something there must be a catch to it. (sarc)

    I think the catch is they’ll make a profit which of course the AP is just appalled that some evil corporation might make some money doing something that is actually good for people. They of course believe that the big corporations should just give things to those less fortunate (who vote D in every election) and making a profit is obscene.

    I guess all the welfare bunnies in NYC are going to have to take the train over to Jersey or Connecticut to get their drugs taking time out of their busy day. They’ll most likely miss the Price is Right or General Hospital. Oh wait, they can use the DVR attached to the 60″ plasma TV to record it, Never mind.

  8. Mae says:

    As Steve noted, “union” is the key word. Shouldn’t it be illegal to spend union dues on political donations when the pension funds are insolvent? Of course, union priority is not the worker; it is power; it is forcing the individual worker to do the leadership bidding; it is using the workers’ money to further the leftist agenda, without the worker’s permission. Unions have long since outgrown their necessity. They need Walmart to feed their coffers. AP is happy to be union P.R.

  9. proreason says:

    Some truth telling. The plan with the lowest deductable is probably the best plan for people who don’t take many medications, but still want some protection for emergencies.

    Beyond that, the best plan for a person depends on what medications they take, since all of the plans reimburse differently. Walmart will be best for some, not best for others.

    So, to single Walmart out only proves one thing, which is to prove the political bias of the author.

  10. canary says:

    I don’t understand how Medicare works. If this is a supplemental policy (so much for Pelosi’s hole ) then
    the plan would be as the callers ask “why is it so cheap?” So, is Medicare saying they don’t pay for prescriptions if you choose a private plan. Walmart’s health plan is from a “private insurance company”

    One reason regular pharmacies hates Walmarts is because they were the first to offer $ 4 dollar prescriptions off certain medications & generics. This made the other pharmacies have to compete.

    However Walmarts sure took advantage of Obama’s communist scare tactics. Prior, anytime there was a tax rebate, their prices skyrocket. And this inspite of the many things they are doing to save money, which will cost them business. If only Walt was still alive.

    Anyways, they still haven’t started the doctor’s office at their stores yet, as they planned here. Shop before your appointment, and shop after. We have stupid managers that are there to stay.

    If Obama had not scared people about the great depression, things would not have gotten this bad. I’ve been spending money on survival things rm clothing

    • proreason says:

      The prescription plan part of Medicare (Plan B) is totally separate from regular Medicare, and is also totally unfunded by taxes. In other words, it is a huge government payout with no taxes behind it.

      Plan B is probably the major criticism by Conservatives of Dubyas domestic agenda. More out, not more coming in. Very hard to understand why he did it.

      The only saving grace is that it is probably the only major government program that is almost exclusively run by private business, and that has kept the overall cost from skyrocketing like every other government program. But that won’t last long. Congress has recently changed the rules about he infamous “donut hole” in a way that will inevitable drive the cost through the roof.

  11. BillK says:

    Has anyone with a different health plan checked their insurance lately? Most if not all health plans have large penalties if you decide to purchase your drugs from a random pharmacy rather than one that directly participates in the plan.

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