Wal-Mart's shockingly cheap drug plan
The retailer partners with Humana to beat out other plans for Medicare recipients.
Wal-Mart (WMT) upended the drug industry in 2006 by offering $4 generic drugs. Now the retailing giant is at it again, unveiling the cheapest prescription drug plan in the country.
Wal-Mart has partnered with health insurance company Humana (HUM) and will offer the plan to people on Medicare, Bloomberg reports. Starting Jan. 1, the plan will cost only $14.80 a month -- less than half the average Medicare premium for prescription drugs.
It's a win-win for both companies. Humana wants to boost its market share and hopes Wal-Mart will bring in enough business to keep its drug plans profitable. Wal-Mart wants more people to visit its pharmacies instead of Walgreens (WAG) or CVSCaremark (CVS).
The companies said the typical Medicare prescription-drug customer could save $450 a year with the new plan, which also has lower copayments and cost shares, according to Dow Jones Newswires. At specific pharmacies -- such as, oh, say, Wal-Mart's -- the copayment could be as low as $2 for generic drugs. Humana's mail-order service will have zero copay.
Already analysts predict a price war as other retailers and drugstores scramble to match Wal-Mart's pricing. "We would not be surprised if rival insurers form joint plans with other pharmacy chains," said Standard & Poor's analyst Phillip Seligman, according to Dow Jones.
People can enroll in the new plan from Nov. 15 through the end of the year. Click here for more information.
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About 18 million Medicare beneficiaries have signed up for prescription-drug-only plans, Reuters reported.
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