Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Extortion At The Pharmacy

Pay up or the cigar gets it
You fill your prescriptions where it is most convenient for you. A pharmacy near your job, or where you wait for the bus to take you to your dull cubicle or the dish-washing station at the greasy spoon. Maybe it's next to the dry cleaners so you can consolidate the pick-ups to save a few minutes.

CVS doesn't care if you're inconvenienced. If you have Caremark running your benefits show and your preferred store is still selling cigarettes, you are going to pay more for your prescription.

It's extortion, in essence, at the corporate level. CVS wants all shops in its Caremark network to stop carrying tobacco products because it's not a product designed to promote health. It is an addiction, not unlike those addicted to prescription meds, but pills are so clean and they don't smell when being used according to the doc's orders.

The idea behind the extortion plot is to force the pharmacy in question to remove the cigs because their clients are going to go elsewhere to buy their meds and the pharmacy will be forced out of business.

If you're doing business with CVS directly, at one of its 7700 pharmacies, you've already adapted. You get your ciggies elsewhere because the pharmacy doesn't carry them any more. If your health insurance plan contains a prescription drug benefit plan operated by CVS-owned Caremark, you will either pay up for your pharmacist's stubborn refusal to be told what to do by some big faceless corporation, or you'll go elsewhere to avoid paying the extortion.

The Mafia makes millions from shop owners who pay the goons to not burn down the store. Now CVS is going thug and making everyone pay if the pharmacy doesn't follow orders.

The company you work for wants all the employees to give up smoking because health care costs are higher for long-time smokers. They have an unpleasant tendency to develop cancers after prolonged use, and if you get sick while still employed, the health insurance provider has to pay up and they really, really hate that. You can still sneak the smokes, of course, but it's going to be made more inconvenient because you can't just pick up a pack when you get your blood pressure meds. You have to go to the nearest gas station or the convenience store on the corner.

What can you do, to keep doing things the way you've been doing?

Walgreens doesn't care if you smoke or not. They're competing with CVS to get prescriptions. So it's up to you and your fellow smokers to put pressure on whoever at your place of employment picks the insurance policies. Down with Caremark! Up with liberty! Down with extortion! Don't tread on me!

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