Are you an out-of-work Entertainment professional with no insurance right now?
If you answered yes to that question, you’re like me and tens of thousands of other people depending on cash for their maintenance meds every month.
Wal-Mart Pharmacy across America is known for having $4 prescriptions for many popular prescription drugs, and for many people, this is a necessity. For people who depend on places like this in order to live, being able to buy their meds AND anything else they might need in order to live (you know, like auto insurance, food, OTC meds when you can’t afford to see your doctor, etcetera), having to pay only four bucks for drugs is a serious plus!
Well… I have to tell you a story.
I’m one of those Entertainment pros without a job or insurance right now, so I’m paying out of pocket for my meds. I went to the Wal-Mart pharmacy in East Peoria, IL last week to pick up two scripts written for me by my doc, and one of the drugs I’m on is supposed to be on the Wal-Mart list for low-cost drugs for people without insurance. The woman manning the pharmacy — the non-Pharmacist tech, looked me right in the eyes and said “that’ll be $800.39, please.” Unbelievably, I had no choice but to pay that $800 out of pocket. We asked the woman to check again on the price, and both the pharmacy tech AND the pharmacist then took my $800.39 for the one drug. It wasn’t some kind of cancer drug or an experimental drug not covered anywhere, either. It’s a standard drug that a whole hell of a lot of people need.
Literally one week later, I saw an advertisement for Schnook’s Pharmacy, a drugstore in a grocery store in Peoria, IL, that was advertising my specific drug for $89.75. I called that pharmacy and asked about my specific medication, and they confirmed that yep, it’s $89.75. As you can assume, I called the Wal-Mart pharmacy directly after, asking them why a similar pharmacy in town had my drug for $89.75 instead of Wal-Mart’s price of $800.39. The pharmacist put me on hold, and after five minutes came back and told me that I should come in for a full refund of that cost, as they had that medicine listed for $80.39, not $800.39. But, I got the excuse that “Wal-Mart corporate sets the prices, we don’t.” That sure didn’t stop them from pocketing my $800 bucks.
When my dad and I went over to the pharmacy and asked the supervisor of the pharmacy what they would have done had we not come back in for that refund of over $700, she confirmed that yes, Wal-Mart corporate sets the prices, and yes, they would have not corrected the cost difference and pocketed the difference. The actual conversation, verbatim, went like this while waiting for a Customer Service manager to give us the refund:
My dad: “So, what would have happened were we not to have come checking on this? Would you guys have just pocketed the difference and that’s that?”
East Peoria Wal-Mart Pharmacy manager: “Yep. We would have.”
This is unbelievable to me, at least. If you’re off insurance and in need of your meds, please make sure you price check in your town to see that you’re not getting Wal-Marted on your drugs.
I posted this to the Wal-Mart Facebook page, and it never made the public light of day. Anyone surprised?