July 22, 2007
Last September, Wal-Mart announced that it would lower its cost to consumers to a flat $4.00 per prescription for over 300 generic medications. These people aren’t stupid; in fact, it’s a brilliant marketing idea. It gives Walmart a bigger slice of the quarter trillion dollars that Americans annually spend on prescriptions, while providing a ton of good publicity regarding the increased affordability of prescription medications to uninsured and underinsured Americans. And those same customers are going to shop for other merchandise while waiting for prescriptions to be filled. Look at the cheap prescriptions as a kind of “loss leader” for Walmart.
Pajamadeen isn’t exactly a fan of Wallet World, due to their role in creating ghost towns out of formerly vibrant downtowns, their primarily “Made in China” merchandise which allows the store’s low prices, and those creepy “mystery fish” fillets available in our local Wal-Mart which just say ““Product of China” on the packaging. Wal-Mart is not your friend and the bottom line is, the prescription program is designed to suck yet more shoppers into the Wallet World vortex. But since the prescription drug program’s expansion from test markets like Tampa (where there’s a high percentage of elderly residents), you can work this prescription plan to your advantage, without ever setting foot in Wallet World. Be still, my beating heart!
Here’s how it works. Pajamadeen was recently blowing a gasket and had borderline high blood pressure. The prescription was going to cost over $100/month. As he wrote the prescription, her doctor said: “$4.00. Wal-Mart.” Now, Pajamadeen lives in the middle of nowhere, and it’s a 35-mile round trip to and form Wal-mart and with high gas prices in mind, she grocery shopped while waiting for the prescription to be filled (just like Wallet World planned).
The wait was long. You would not believe the number of desperately ill-looking people crowded into Wallet World’s pharmacy waiting area. (This also reminded Pajamadeen of why she avoids crowded waiting rooms in doctors’ offices during the height of the flu season. What better way to contract something, than by hanging out with sick people?)
Another month rolled around. Pajamadeen sighed at the thought of a return trip to Wallet World, which she’d successfully avoided for 18 months until the June trip for a prescription. Then she thought about how other pharmacies probably match those Wal-Mart prices, in a desperate effort to stay in the game. She took the prescription to a small regional store named Pamida, which is sort of like a miniature K-Mart. The company specializes in going into towns which don’t have a large enough population base or enough drawing power to land a Walmart.
Sure enough, it worked. Showing the
cashier “pharmacy assistant” the empty bottle, Pajamadeen asked if the store would meet Walmart’s $4.00 price. She wasn’t sure and didn’t look happy, but went to ask the pharmacist. Looking through the glass, he smiled and gave a thumbs-up sign. Yes! Free from Walmart and its throngs of sick people and the general overcrowding we’ve all come to know. Free from wasting gas money and time. A “green” solution to the prescription dilemma. Next month, we’ll just phone the prescription in to Pamida and use the drive-up window to pick it up. What could be simpler?
If you have a small(er than Walmart) chain pharmacy in your town and need a prescription filled, ask if they’ll meet Wallet World’s price. You might be pleasantly surprised at the answer you get.
Note: You are still on your own with the cost of drugs not available generically. The prices for those vary wildly, and it pays to shop around before having those prescriptions filled.
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