I had to change my regular medications last week. I delayed the conversation with the nurse while I did some checking of prices. From both Costco and Walmart I could get a 3-month supply for $10, cash, no insurance. The nurse commented "we don't price compare". My response was "I do." (It's actually quite unreasonable to expect them to help price compare. Insurance plan complexities are different for every patient and finding a cost is hard.) Since my co-pay is $25, the $10 is a good price.
I've been through this before, but just for my amusement I checked again:
- At both local chain pharmacies they will not quote a price. Prices are secret. All they will disclose is co-pay and only 1 month supply salable if insured. They are not willing to sell on other terms, even for cash, because they know I have insurance.
- I didn't waste time with the PBM that used to nag me. Last time they were not willing to quote a price. All they would disclose was the copay, for a 3 month supply, delivered by mail sometime in a two week window.
The only way to find a price is to buy the drug and look at the receipt details.
I find the nonsense about healthcare demonstrating "market failure" to be highly annoying. You can't call it a market when prices are kept secret from potential customers. Price and quality comparison are fundamental to anything called a market.
The increasing penetration of Costco and Walmart may partially reflect customer intolerance for the mandated inconvenient delivery and secret pricing. The cost conscious public clearly want a real marketplace with public prices.