December 5, 2007
Globe reporter Bruce Mohl provides an important service to readers in his Dec. 2 article, “High prescription prices ailing you? Shop around” by explaining that discount generics can help even those who have drug coverage.
By offering generic drugs for $4 or less, Wal-Mart and other retailers show that competition works. Congress didn’t pass legislation to impose price controls on the drug market or require the federal government to negotiate prices. The plummeting prices have absolutely nothing to do with politicians, bureaucrats, legislation or regulation and everything to do with private-sector competition.
These low prices benefit all consumers, especially those without health insurance. But consumers with health insurance can benefit in another way: The full cost of the lower-priced generics may be less than the co-payment consumers would pay if they ran the bills through their health insurance. By keeping this cost off the health insurance books, insurance costs can begin to moderate, saving money for employers, consumers, and the health system in the long run. Smart shopping pays.
Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a non-profit research organization in Alexandria, VA, that specialized in consumer-centered health reform.