Monday, December 04, 2006

Thanks and no thanks 

Two weird health stories this weekend. First, because claims were down this year, the state employees' health care plan is forgoing collecting premiums this week. This will save me about $40, thank you very much! The article says we are doing better preventative care. I was reading a conversation between some other health care professionals the other day and something was said I found fascinating: Why do preventative care of some kinds if you don't get the benefits of it? The case was for prostate cancer. Most men who experience it do so in their early 60s, close to the time when they would qualify for Medicare. So why would a HMO or other medical care provider do the preventative stuff or test for prostate cancer early, when the benefits of early testing are to prevent Medicare from paying for more expensive treatment later? But state jobs tend to be held for longer periods, so preventative medical care makes more sense for Minnesota Advantage.

Turns out that this benefit only goes to those who pay premiums for dependents -- if you're a single person your premiums are 100% paid by the state already, so you get no "premium holiday."

Second, you heard that the big bad WalMart wants to make you buy your drugs for $4? Those meanies! You should pay $9!
Minnesota's statute was one of many written during the Depression to protect small retailers against competition from large chain stores, said William L. Sippel, a lawyer with Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly in Minneapolis. Modern courts would look at whether a retailer's low prices could drive competitors out of business and enable the retailer to recoup losses later with higher prices, Sippel said.

Tim Gallagher, president-elect of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association, said small drug stores need such a shield to prevent them from being driven out of rural areas -- something he said would hurt competition in the long run.
What's stranger: That the law is written to help pharmacists at the expense of consumers in the 1930s -- while now being paid by health insurance in some cases, most people will have this amount fall in their co-pays -- or that the money WalMart and Target are forced to take in higher prices will not go to these small pharmacists? Imagine the following: You go to Target with your prescription and they charge you $4 for the drug plus a $5 tax to be paid to the pharmacist in North Soytown. Would you scream injustice? Now suppose you go to Target with your prescription and they charge you $9, going all to them. Who do you scream at now? The only reason they never do the first is because you would complain -- if you wouldn't, they would gladly have the money go to the local pharmacist rather than Arkansas-based WalMart.