As readers may recall, I am no fan of the pharmaceutical companies' tactics, which strike me as tantamount to the American funeral industry's, digging into your pocketbook when you're at your physical/emotional lowest. Notice, too, they both claim foundations of pure altruism, and if you've had delightful experiences with one or both, I'm delighted.
Here's my latest, a sort of trickle-down effect: I am having Lasik this week, and needed to fill a prescription for one Valium, which the doctor apparently has patients take an hour before the procedure, as well as for ten Vicodin, for any pain afterwards. I stopped at Walgreen's, because it was close to where I needed to grocery shop, and having only twenty dollars cash and a debit card, wanted to know which to use where, and asked the pharmacist what the 'scrips would run.
"The Valium will be $11.99," she said. I asked, for one pill?
"That's Walgreen's policy," she answered. "The lowest we charge for any presciption is $11.99."
Or, what she'd also charge for fourteen. I asked, if I'd come in with twenty separate presciptions for one pill each, they would have cost $11.99 per...
"Well, then we might have been able to make a deal."
I told her to hand me back my prescriptions. I contemplated reaming out the manager for upholding a policy designed to alienate and piss off customers; to make them feel low and helpless. And how about all the people who come in really sick, as I am not, and don't have the energy to go somewhere else, as I was about to? Does he care that they just sit there on the beat-up vinyl chairs, with expressions that say, "I know I'm going to take it up the ass, but be gentle because I already feel terrible"? But the managers I've seen in this store have looked beaten themselves, variously seething and laconic in their crappy corporate smocks.
I drove to my HMO (Kaiser); they filled both 'scrips for $20 bucks, perhaps not substantially less but not institutionally more. Also, the young pharmacist, an Asian kid in a cool cowboy shirt, was a doll.
For those doing good things and not for the dime: check out today's NY Times on Iraq blogger Michael Yon, whom I first learned of from my buddy Michael Totten.