Wal-Mart's shockingly cheap drug plan

The retailer partners with Humana to beat out other plans for Medicare recipients.

Posted by Kim Peterson Friday, October 01, 2010 12:56:53 PM

Medicare drug plan © MedicalRF.com/CorbisWal-Mart (WMT) upended the drug industry in 2006 by offering $4 generic drugs. Now the retailing giant is at it again, unveiling the cheapest prescription drug plan in the country.

Wal-Mart has partnered with health insurance company Humana (HUM) and will offer the plan to people on Medicare, Bloomberg reports. Starting Jan. 1, the plan will cost only $14.80 a month -- less than half the average Medicare premium for prescription drugs.

It's a win-win for both companies. Humana wants to boost its market share and hopes Wal-Mart will bring in enough business to keep its drug plans profitable. Wal-Mart wants more people to visit its pharmacies instead of Walgreens (WAG) or CVSCaremark (CVS).


The companies said the typical Medicare prescription-drug customer could save $450 a year with the new plan, which also has lower copayments and cost shares, according to Dow Jones Newswires. At specific pharmacies -- such as, oh, say, Wal-Mart's -- the copayment could be as low as $2 for generic drugs. Humana's mail-order service will have zero copay.

Already analysts predict a price war as other retailers and drugstores scramble to match Wal-Mart's pricing. "We would not be surprised if rival insurers form joint plans with other pharmacy chains," said Standard & Poor's analyst Phillip Seligman, according to Dow Jones.

People can enroll in the new plan from Nov. 15 through the end of the year. Click here for more information.


Post continues after video:

One Sanford Bernstein analyst estimates the new offering could add 250,000 people to Humana's Medicare drug plan, according to Bloomberg, bringing the total to nearly 2 million. Humana has already set a goal of a 5% operating margin (before taxes), and it thinks the Wal-Mart plan will help meet that target, Reuters reported.
Wal-Mart wouldn't say how many pharmacy customers it hopes to add.

About 18 million Medicare beneficiaries have signed up for prescription-drug-only plans, Reuters reported.
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10/04/2010 3:33 PM
Hooray for Walmart
10/04/2010 1:31 PM

At a quick glance the Humana/Walmart Partnership sounds good. HOWEVER, when folks sign up for HUMANA's plan, they MUST use Walmart, and pay $2 vs $4 for generic drugs. NOW that is going to the coverage Gap. Many of my clients (I am an insurance agent) use W/M for the $4 generics and pay cash and use their drug insurance Part D for the NON generics.. This keeps them out of the donut hole longer. With this marriage of HUMANA and Walmart, the Medicare Beneficiary will Lose.... Those folks who are close to the donut hole each year... don't jump too quick. Put a pencil to it first!

10/04/2010 9:13 AM
Walmart is not all bad ,I worked for them for 1 7  years and was paid a fair wage and learned a new trade. But don't get hurt there I was injured through no fault of mine and was forced to leave thier employ, even though I could still do the job.
10/04/2010 9:12 AM
Sorry Walmart, only brand name drugs go into my body! I am not going to take a drug made in China, India or Mexico.
10/04/2010 5:25 AM
What I do not see in this article, but is shown in their brochure, is that there is a $310 deductible for all tiers of their drug plan.
10/02/2010 5:16 PM
Yeah buddy, get your drugs from Wal Mart.  They get them from Mexico, India and China but I guess a little roach leg adds protein to the drug. 
10/02/2010 4:53 PM
I really do not like shopping at Wal-mart for anything, but I live in such a tiny town that we don't have that much of a choice unless we can afford premium prices for clothes, shoes and prescriptions.  I'm on a fixed income, so while I would love to take my business elsewhere, I can't.  We don't have a Rexall or Walgreen or Costco, or any other option within 40 miles.  It's Big K (which has HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE service) a mom&pop owned pharmacy which charges really high prices, or Wal-Mart. 
10/02/2010 4:24 PM

please look at the total costs before saying this wal-mart plan is the cheapest. a $300+ dedectible adds to that plan charge. so it's $45 a month.


then the copay would for me increase by $2 X 8 meds , so another $16.


so for me it'd be a lot higher than my current part d plan and higher than a few more.


seems those writeing this blog work or were paid by wal-mart

10/02/2010 4:15 PM
Wal-Mart selling medications at all is frightening.  I had a prescription filled there and they sent me home with someone else's medication.  When I took it back to the pharmacy, the pharmacist on duty refused to come out and talk to me about it.  I am not a yeller, but I still felt sorry for the cashier who kept going to the back to talk to the pharmacist and then up front to try and apologize to me.  I thanked the cashier for being so helpful and got the name of the pharmacist from her.  I then had her tell the pharmacist that I work with the pharmacy board for our state's Department of Health.  When I got back to work on Monday, we opened an investigation.  This had been happening a lot.  I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart for anything now.  Their "low prices" aren't all that low, and certainly aren't worth the "high cost" of their business.
10/02/2010 3:50 PM
some of us don't have the luxury of picking and choosing where we buy, some in rural areas or on fixed budgets must choose price and convenience over political correctness and fake environmental concerns.it's okay we know gay people don't like walmart,but don't try and convince me they are evil.i still think you are evil.
10/02/2010 3:35 PM
Regarding Walmarts "cheaper" prices, this week a prescribtion I have cost $125 cash at Walmart versus only $45 at a local drug store for the exact medicine made by the same company.  Shop around and do not blindly go to Walmart because they say they are low priced.
10/02/2010 3:09 PM
There are definitely bad imported drugs that slip through the system despite the FDA.   Keep in mind the human rights violations in the emerging economies.  But, I also realize our own economy is bad and people need low prices.  It is a downward spiral since we are forced into buying using price only as a consideration.  I love America and am very concerned for all of us.  In the meantime, everyone should be aware of what they are swallowing.
10/02/2010 3:07 PM

Good!!! About time the blood sucking pharmaceutical industry got a kick in the behind.  Gee, you may need to wait??? Waah, waah, better than paying hundreds of dollars for prescriptions. 


FDA approval means little or nothing.  They continually approve medicine, then three to five years later find the drugs they approved kill and maim the people taking the prescriptions.

10/02/2010 2:59 PM
 I'm not going to get into all of the CT doomsday scenario preachings, but will rather comment about something mentioned in the article concerning other business's. I noticed where it is already predicted that other pharmacys & insurers will try to come up with something similar. That is a mistake.

 You CAN'T directly compete with Wal-Mart. K-Mart found that out. You have to offer a completely different type of service which Wal-Mart doesn't offer. Target found that niche. In this case, another pharmacy might as well forget the idea about trying to sell their drugs the same price or lower than Wal-Mart .... you'll soon go bankrupt.

 Instead, use some inventive & unique offerings which simply can not fit into Wal-Mart's business model. An example may be to advertise something like, "All drugs made in the U.S.A., rigourously tested, & certified free of any foreign material." DON'T mention Wal-Mart's name, or even imply that ("the other guy"), so you give them no reason to sue. Of course the only problem with this approach is that patriotism pretty much shut down about the same time people decided religion was a horrible thing. So that "U.S.A." title doesn't mean what it use to for people. But at least some of us still hold things like that important.

 Another possibility is to figure out a few ways for a pharmacy to become very important for the community it's located in. Basically this means that pharmacys need to dump the idea of locating in large towns for a larger customer base, which is, once again, Wal-Mart's territory. You WILL lose. Cater to each individual smaller community. Family Dollar & Dollar General have figured this out & are expanding explosively.

 Finally, there are LOT of young college educated marketing people available out there. This is what we are trained on & we know how to make a business succeed in any specific scenario. USE us!! The benefits you will receive down the road from our expertise will GREATLY out-weigh the expense of hiring us.

10/02/2010 2:53 PM
What the heck is wrong with you people!  This is America--if you want to pay double for your drugs, go ahead, but don't ask everyone else to do the same.  And quit bashing Wal-Mart.  They have improved the standard of living for so many people.  Have you ever thought that it might not be W-M running Mom & Pop out of business, but people shopping at W-M for lower prices  and variety that caused this.  If people don't want the Mom & Pop to go out of business, shop at Mom & Pop, not W-M.  Then you could be like Europe where people have to save for months to buy a pair of leather shoes.  Wal-Mart gives the public what they want--lower prices.  If we didn't want that, W-M would go out of business!
10/02/2010 2:26 PM
Alot of sick and elderly people won't use the WM pharmacy because of convenience--you have to go into the store to get your prescription filled because they are hoping you will buy while you wait and the wait is usually long. No drive-throughs like Walgreens, and Super D's stores usually have.
Too bad the colleges are buying into Walmart's evil ways. I am sure the colleges are getting a major kick back out of it. Walmart is not what it started out to be, it has become evil. Don't promote Walmart's way of treating people. They treat their workers like slaves. There are so many lawsuits against them it is not even funny. Their workers get paid so low that they qualify for Welfare, the only way they have insurance, Wamart doesn't give them a decent wage or insurance for their families. Check it out.
Ask Walmart where the drugs are being made, try China. Remember, the country that sent drywall that killed people and was moldy. Also the country that killed pets with its additives to dog food. Check about it. China is NOT working in our best interests, they are just out for themselves. Walmart does not care about anything but the almighty dollar. Not you not me, not your elderly parents or your children. Do not buy the drugs they sell unless you get proof they were made here in the US from US drugs.....otherwise make sure your will is up to date, your remaining family will appreciate it. Sad
10/02/2010 10:33 AM

The commissary to America.

All planned out. In early 1980’s both political parties endorsed and released “Workforce 2000” plans starting with the Fortune 500 companies. Workforce 2000 is Americas contribution to the new global economy. Jack Welch, then CEO of GE designed the model and the rest of the big leaguers followed in his foot steps. I remember it well working for a large aerospace company in So. Cal.
We attended a four hour presentation on how America was going to change. We were to become a service oriented country. How labor intensive work was going to be out sourced. How Chinas average pay scale was a whopping .35 cents per day. The man hours it took us to build one large airplane would be an equivalent cost to the most expensive BMW motorcar. Were all our stock holder excited. The Demographics of America were also explained. Guess what? The Hispanic communities was going to be the major population in the LA basin area. That’s right. See where we are today. All part of the plan and don’t forget, all endorsed by both political parties. Then the whipshooding began. Jack Welch implemented a theme called, “Keeping the Ideas Coming”. Ref. March Fortune 500 article. With the threat, or inevitable loss of our jobs, he started a manipulation cooptation strategy to pick the employees brains and make them think they could compete and save their jobs/asses.
As Americans Change so to speak and our earning power diminishes Americans will eventually take what they can get. Just like other third world counties did. Its Americas turn to become the stepchild.
So when I hear and read about this new economy BS, remember our government has it all under control. The part I have trouble with is if people are not working and or making half of what they use to make, income tax revenue will drop as well. How dose a tax system expect to sustain and pay for basic services, afford a healthcare program and frequent handouts to the world in trouble?
10/02/2010 10:17 AM
10/01/2010 6:05 PM
Walmart grasps at straws all the time.  Humana must want to partner with the devil.  Walmart is a terrible partner.  I am sure we all remember the "Made in America" campaign Walmart used to have.  Got it cheaper in China so Screw you American worker.  As for this drug plan it will be generic driven with 3 sets of copays.  The plan will require the pharmacist to call the doctor very often to get your drug changed to a "therapeutic" equivalent.  People considering this plan should read the fine print.  Walmart is not in business to look out for your best interests but for theirs.  As an independent pharmacy owner beware of this plan.  If you decide that this is what you want then learn to live with many changes in your drug regimen.

It's true that WM is looking out for their own interests. Yes, I well remember the "Made in America" ad campaign. WM uses a lot of deception in their current ads. "Always Low Prices." Well, not always the lowest prices if you're an educated consumer. But WM is banking on the fact that most of their customers are not educated consumers.


Wal-Mart has ruined many American businesses--putting them out of business for not giving in to Wal-Mart's pressure to lower their prices. "Made in America. Put out of business by Wal-Mart." So you see mostly Chinese junk in Wal-Mart. I would be wary of the source of drugs that Wal-Mart sells. You can't sell cheap unless the source is cheap.


So, will Wal-Mart's drugs contribute to your health problems?? Be sure they don't contain any undesirable ingredients (as in antifreeze). I don't take any medications now. But if I ever need to, you can be sure they will come from a local paharmacy that cares about their reputation.  

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