Pharmacies Have Eyes Set on Newly Insured

Ali Khoshnevis OD
Date:  07 January 2014

Pharmacies Have Eyes Set on Newly Insured

With the official launch of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act), Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Walmart, and many popular grocery store pharmacies are trying to generate loyalty among these newly insured customers. Here are a few examples: 

  • CVS will offer new health exchange customers a “transitional supply” of medications
  • Kroger will offer certain prescriptions at no up-front cost
  • Rite Aid is providing certain 30-day prescriptions at no charge to eligible patients
  • Walgreens has a “no up-front cost for newly insured patients who have not been assigned a plan identification number” promotion as long as the retailer is able to confirm enrollment
  • Walmart will also offer prescriptions at no up-front cost

These companies are creating positive PR and lauding their efforts to increase medication compliance, but at the end of the day, their motives are quite evident. They want to earn your long-term business by losing some money in the short-term.  These losses are insignificant compared to the mountain of profits they will gain when their freebies expire. 

Please keep in mind that your out-of-pocket expenses for your medications can vary dramatically from one pharmacy to another. This is especially true if you have a high deductible health plan. So while I appreciate the gesture by the pharmacies, I would advise you to shop around when it is time to go back for your second month’s supply. You should also take your list of medications to all the pharmacies you visit. And before you go, take a moment to compare prices on WeRx.org, because your co-pay/co-insurance may be more expensive than our negotiated prices.  Why not be armed with information before you hit the road…

Ali is a practicing doctor and the CEO of WeRx.org, a pharmacy price comparison site and app with the goal of helping patients find the lowest cost medications in their neighborhood.

Pharmacy in the Richmond (cc) by Michael Pieracci (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mpieracci/)