In response to Shane Mason's comments on my post on the Wal-Mart prescription drug program I feel it important to respond to them in this post.
Andy, you should pick your heroes more carefully. Want a good example of the free market, look at Cosco. At least research a bit before puking out a press release verbatim. Here are some factoids for you.
I have done a lot of research on Wal-Mart. Interestingly, one of the most informative documents I have found is called "Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story" written by Jason Furman who was an economic advisor to the Kerry Campaign. I don't always rely on conservative information.
I think Costco is an outstanding company that provides great pay, benefits, and opportunities. Their business model is very successful.
1. There are NOT 331 drugs, there are 123 drugs at verying dosages.
It's actually 143 different drugs in 331 different versions and dosages. I don't see this as being a big deal as this information is easily available on Wal-Mart's web site.
2. American Taxpayers spend over 9 BILLION each year on healthcare costs for Walmart employees as they choose to have over 775,000 employees without healthcare. Now, if they were the shining example of the free market that you want them to be, wouldn't they be offering health care to their employees. If that isn't how it is supposed to work, then how?
According to Furman's paper, Wal-Mart offers health insurance to both full and part-time employees where only 60% of firms economy wide offer health benefits and only 17% offer health benefits to part-time workers.
Wal-Mart also pays 70 % of the cost of benefits which is similar to the retail industry. More Wal-Mart employees are eligible for health insurance than in the retail sector as a whole and even slightly more than the nationwide total. Even though the company pays 70% of the cost only 48% of their employees have health insurance. This is compared to 46% in the retail industry.
Wal-Mart has 548,000 employees on the insurance which covers 948,000 people. 34% of Wal-Mart employees are offered health insurance but choose not to enroll, because they are already covered by a family member, choose to be on Medicaid rather then pay their portion of the premium, or choose not to have health insurance.
Finally, they have comparable deductibles to other PPO plans and are one of few companies that have no lifetime maximum for coverage.
3. You get one more for free, after that I am going to make you do your own research.
Wal-Mart’s List Includes Only 1 Percent of Generics on the Market, Less than 10 percent of Commonly Stocked Generics. The New York Times reported that more than 11,000 generic drugs are currently on the market, and other large pharmacies routinely carry more than 3,000 generics on their shelves. The number of drugs in the Wal-Mart program, which the company misleadingly represents as, “as 143 compounds,” represents only a tiny percentage of these numbers. [New York Times, 9/22/06; Generic Line, 10/4/06; Wal-Mart release, 10/19/06; News Observer (NC), 9/23/06]
Throwing out these huge numbers of generic drugs that are on the market means very little. Most are not commonly prescribed or dispensed. What is important and far more meaningful is that the $4 program is on a full 25% of the generics that Wal-Mart dispenses.
Relying on "research" from a anti-Wal-Mart group such as Wake Up WalMart is unreliable and biased.