HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Costco Prescription Drug Plan

Jamie Court, a blogger at, has an interesting piece about an LA Times article about seniors buying prescription drugs at Costco for less than the prices available on their Medicare Part D plans.  He writes,

How is it that Costco, a lean and efficient but still for-profit company, can provide consumers with prescription medications for a lower price than a government program subsidized by hundreds of billions, yes billions, of taxpayer dollars? The only possible answer is that the privatized prescription drug "benefit" being forced on U.S. seniors is meant chiefly to pour profits into Big Pharma, not to help Medicare recipients get a better bang for their pharmaceutical buck.

The LA times story by Valerie Reitman describes seniors who shopped hard to find what looked like the best Medicare Part D benefit for them, only to go to Costco to pick it up and find out that the discount chain's over the counter price was less than they would be charged under Part D. Martin Brower, 77, found that his blood pressure medication would cost him $1.32 per pill, and be limited to 30 pills, under his "benefit." Costco would sell him, without subsidy, 100 pills for $1.13 each. Other examples followed.

It's like the government subsidizing me to pay full price at Brooks Brothers but refusing to help me pay half price for the same suit at Costco.

Perhaps the time has come for a hard look at Medicare Part D - not only is it confusing but costly not only for the government but also for the people it is supposed to be helping.  [bm].

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