While state and federal governments flail around trying to unbreak the health care “system” that they’ve been breaking for decades, entrepreneurs are addressing patients’ needs in innovative ways.
CVS, a leading chain of pharmacies has now cut prices for 400 generic drugs to $9.99 for a 90-day supply. A key point: this is for uninsured patients who pay cash, and can also enroll for a $10 annual fee in a program to get 10% discounts at on-site Minute Clinics, a chain of convenient clinics that CVS bought a while back.
Can you imagine a health plan that offers traditional PPO or HMO coverage negotiating such a deal on behalf of its beneficiaries? Nope, neither can I. There is simply too much bureaucracy in these systems to innovate in such a simple and obvious way.
So, those of us who are insured will still have to wait until the pharmacist’s assistant types our details into her computer before we know how much our prescription costs. (And that’s not the least of it. At least the pharmacy has real-time adjudication. When you go to the doctor or hospital, it takes weeks to adjudicate the claim. And you have the privilege of paying for this impenetrable bureaucracy with your premiums!)
The question for CVS and its customers is: How long will the Government tolerate this kind of development? CVS wants to use low-cost generics to drive traffic to the MinuteClinics and into the aisles where other products are stocked.
Surely, its executives will be hauled in front of legislative committees (prompted by state medical societies and other special interests) to justify this “self-dealing” and independent innovation, for which they failed to seek approval from your state’s “Department of Managed Health Services’ Blue Ribbon Gold Plated Task Force on Fixing Our Broken Health System” (or similarly titled group of health care elites).