"Spread Pricing" transparency reveals the millions CVS rakes in by gouging Medicare and prisons on prescription markups

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/13/free-market-efficiency.html

If you want to know why insurance costs so much, it’s because these folks live in a symbiotic world.

My Amlodipine (old man blood pressure med) has a retail price at CVS of about $500 for a month…I asked the other day because I may be switching jobs and would be on the hook for my own prescriptions until insurance kicks back in. Even Walmart charges $5 for a months supply of this. It seriously pisses me off that I have to praise Walmart on this.

The cost for amlodipine oral tablet 2.5 mg is around $14 for a supply of 90 tablets, depending on the pharmacy you visit. Prices are for cash paying customers only and are not valid with insurance plans.


In the end, CVS will give the insurance company a huge discount – maybe only charge $100 for the $15 in drugs…and my co-pay is the actual price of the drug, so it is pure profit and ripping off the healthcare system.


Single-payer universal health insurance won’t work without transparency, which is why its “free” market opponents fight tooth-and-nail to categorise gouging practises like this as “trade secrets”.* Disinfect this corruption with some digitally enabled sunshine and the middlemen and other assorted parasites will have to find other ways to make money by adding no value to the system.

[* as always, such crony-capitalist hobbling also helps GOP “prove” that government can do nothing right]


I don’t understand why CVS is the only villain. Why aren’t we demanding the government purchasers do a better job? Is there some fundamental reason a government run program can’t be run effectively?

1 Like
  1. CVS is absolutely not the only villain; they are the villain Bloomberg analyzed.

  2. When the Medicare Part D law was passed, the government was forbidden to negotiate prices with manufacturers. They are literally required by law to pay whatever the drug companies ask.

  3. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.


Oh I don’t know, when it is forced to rely on private contractors to provide services, and then underfunded to the point of not being able to do proper oversight of it’s contracts in the context of being pressured by deregulation to just “trust” the private contractors rather than investigate or control them? Why is a contractor to government allowed to have Trade Secrets at all? I’m sure that wasn’t a decisions made by a well-meaning Medicare administrator…


I stopped going to CVS all together after they charged me $40 for a single generic albuterol inhaler. This is the maximum drug co-pay under my insurance.

I use the pharmacy at my local (Grand Rapids, MI based) “sells everything” grocery store now. Co-pay for amoxicillin? $0. I think I paid $5 out-of-pocket for a Z-pack.


Maybe a government contractor is allowed to have trade secrets because it’s easier to hide payoffs to politicians and their appointee friends?

Do you think anything will change to make Medicare less wasteful?


I buy mine through Walgreens and their prescription drug plan (because I refuse to give a penny to walmart, ever). I pay $15 a month for that same amlodipine and “retail” is hundreds of dollars. My insurance company doesn’t do shit (they have literally never paid for anything except the Obamacare mandated annual physicals and even then I am always out hundreds of dollars for blood tests, etc.).

CVS does not have a similar plan which is unfortunate because they are more convenient


sunlight, per @Boundegar above, with, of course, the second step being people to fight for the purity and effectiveness of these systems once the cockroaches are in the light. Though hamstrung and perverted by those that either don’t believe in them (Tea Partiers) or those who take advantage of their power for personal enrichment (other corrupt politicians) I still think that socialized medicine is the best way forward, as we have at least the mechanism and philosophy of accountability for government. It’s worth fighting for over and over and over again.


Don’t worry Trump will definitely honor his oft-repeated pledge to negotiate drug prices!

Wait. What? Oh… never mind.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.