Love is probably too strong of a word, but I am feeling very thankful and appreciative (i.e. warm and fuzzy) toward this mammoth corporation right now. I’ve heard about their less-than-stellar treatment of employees, unsavory business practices and the damage that they’ve done to mom-and-pop stores across the country. Yet I overlook these for my own practical, selfish reason: I save money at Walmart.
I’m not talking about saving quarters on shampoo and cheaply made goods. I’m talking about saving hundreds on prescription medication. Recently I had to pay out-of-pocket for a medication not covered by my insurer. I checked online and called around to the usual pharmacies; they all quoted me about the same price. Then I called Walmart. Their price was approximately 60% less than everyone else!
Walmart offers hundreds of prescription medications for $4 to $9 (1 month to 3 month supply). For millions of people without insurance or with flimsy prescription medicine coverage, this is the difference between following their doctor’s orders or not. Vons and Ralphs have tried to match these low prices but they wouldn’t have done this if not for Walmart’s lead.
After checking out a range of Walmart drug prices, I realized that my husband and I could have paid $5 -$20 less per prescription over the years; their prices can even be lower than my insurance co-payment. This recent 60% saving was the biggest price difference yet.
Many people I know won’t step foot into Walmart on principle (moral reasons or aesthetic reasons — garish overhead lights, the depressing feeling of being trapped in a giant box, etc..). However, it may be worth making an exception when it comes to their pharmacy. Medication in this country is outrageously high. Costco may be just as cheap but many people cannot afford to pay a membership fee. In many cases, Walmart can be a life saver.
Are there any other reasons to love Walmart?
First, I’m not entirely convinced that other mega-chains, even my beloved Target, have better track records in terms of employee treatment and imported goods. I see plenty of cheap China-made products at Target, too. Walmart has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint and pressured its suppliers to reduce packaging. Their employees may not be the the most enthusiastic or well-trained but I’ve only had good experiences with their pharmacy staff.
I know that Walmart was the subject of a scathing documentary a few years ago. Since that time, I hope that they have taken steps to become a better corporate citizen. I have to look into it one of these days but for now, I’m burying my head in the sand for selfish financial reasons.