At this point, it’s fairly common knowledge that medical procedures in hospitals are determined on a case-by-case basis. The hospital claims that this is because different agreements are worked out with different insurance companies, but in reality it is the best and most profitable system for the healthcare industry. The simple answer should be that an MRI machine costs so much to buy, staff, and maintain, and those costs are spread out over an average number of patients. The reality is that there is often no answer until your insurance coverage is confirmed.
While this is behavior we have come to expect from hospitals and doctors (who base their pricing under the guise of covering the exorbitant and rising cost of malpractice insurance they are required to carry because of overly litigious patients), we wouldn’t expect the same type of behavior from our neighborhood pharmacy. After all, the cost of a pill is the same to everyone; there is a definite production cost, an expected markup, and that’s the end. Unless, that is, you choose Walgreens as your pharmacy of choice.
KHOU.com published a story in late November that detailed one woman’s experience with her husband’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Corinne and her husband Ken left the doctor’s office with the devastating diagnosis and a prescription for Donepezil, a drug that increases cognition and behavior but doesn’t cure or slow the disease. Ken’s Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs, so Corinne was prepared to pay cash for the 30 tablets – but not for the amount she was charged.
A month’s supply of Donepezil at Walgreens cost the couple $198.80 with no insurance subsidy. When Corinne started questioning how the medication could be so expensive, she began shopping around. Not long after, she found the same amount of the drug, a month’s supply, cost a mere $14.87. Walgreens charged the couple 1,237% more than a competitor just down the road.
How can this happen?
As usual, it comes down to insurance and greed: “Most customers of the major chain drug stores have insurance, and insurance companies negotiate prices that are discounted from a store’s list price. Therefore, the chains attach the list price to a rocket and launch it skyward — and to heck with the poor schlubs like Corrine, who pay out of pocket.” The article concludes that Walgreens isn’t actually at the corner of healthy and happy; instead, it’s at the intersection of “Highway” and “Robbery.”
Corrine contacted Walgreens and received no explanation, but she was offered a full refund. Those of us who don’t check, or don’t have time to check, end up being price-gouged – and we simply carry on, grumbling about the prices without discovering that we have been had. The friendly neighborhood pharmacy turns out to be not-so-friendly after all. A Walgreens spokesman defended the company by saying that 97% of patients use some form of insurance, but that shouldn’t mean the other 3% get raked over the coals.
Pricing is a major issue in the field of healthcare, and negligent or unethical business practices can harm your family just as much as negligent or unethical care. If your loved one has suffered in any way from the negligence of a healthcare professional, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced Ohio and Kentucky medical malpractice attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Call our Ohio team at 877.686.8879, our Kentucky team at 877.651.7764, or contact us today for a free consultation.