Health Insurance, Local Business, and Big Corporations


Health insurance changes every year. I know that my plan is with one insurer for a few years, then switches over to another insurer for a few years. Different insurers have varying requirements. The same is true if you have a separate prescription plan like I do. My prescription plan works with my insurer but is through another company. It can often be frustrating to figure out the requirements of your insurance plan. A separate prescription plan just adds another layer of confusion.

Until this year, I have been able to use my local pharmacy to fill my prescriptions. My local pharmacy is not one of the big ones. It is not a Walgreen’s or a CVS. It is a small, local pharmacy. The kind that you don’t find much anymore. It’s independently owned by people in the community. It even still has a soda fountain. It is the business you can think of when you hear the slogan, “Support local business.”

I have a special attachment to this pharmacy as most people do to local pharmacies. My parents used this pharmacy. I use this pharmacy. It’s been in our family for a long time. Unfortunately, because of my prescription plan, that will no longer be true.

In their infinite wisdom, my insurance plan,  through my teacher’s retirement pension plan, has determined that we can only get affordable prescriptions if we use their mail order service. I have researched this thoroughly because I don’t want to leave my local pharmacy, but I’m not going to have a choice if I want to stay financially solvent. After extensive conversations with both my health insurance company and the prescription company, it has become obvious that I am stuck with mail order. Let me give you an example.

Drugs are divided up into tiers. I have a prescription for a Tier II drug. My local pharmacy can offer this drug, since I had to change to my new health insurance policy/prescription plan, for $174/month. This is a drug I have to take. Since I am a retiree on a fixed income, that was just a bit beyond my means. So I started talking to the mail order company to find out why this is true. The mail order company told me that I can get the same drug, through them, for a $20 co-pay for three months.

You tell me. Am I being forced by this new health insurance plan to use the mail order company rather than my local pharmacy? Of course I am. If a large mail order company can be subsidized to the point where they can offer this drug in question for a $20 copay, why can’t the local pharmacy be subsidized as well so they would not lose their business? This practice by health insurance companies is not supportive of local business and, instead, forcing local pharmacies out of business. I could even go so far as to say it is creating a monopoly on prescriptions with mail-order pharmacies.

It is similar to the Wal-Mart phenomenon. When Wal-Mart came in to small towns, it drove many small town business out of business.

Large corporations, with government cooperation and their subsidies, are participating in driving small, local business out of business. This is not the America I know.

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