NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 26, 2007

Wal-Mart's advance into health care is a testament to private-sector industriousness. While others whine about America's health care "crisis," and back monstrous government programs to solve it, Wal-Mart is actually making care more affordable, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

Consider the retailer's record:

  • Already, Wal-Mart has brought low-cost health care by selling 30-day supplies of more than 300 generic prescription drugs at some stores for $4.
  • Almost a third of those $4 prescriptions are bought by the uninsured.
  • Customers have saved $290 million through the program just since September.

Now, they've gone even further, says IBD:

  • The company has announced that it will open as many as 400 in-store medical clinics in the next two to three years.
  • By 2014, it said, clinics could be in as many as half its 4,000 stores.
  • The clinics will be operated by local hospitals or other independent professionals, and will particularly help the poor, mirroring the low prices in Wal-Mart stores.

Cynics will say clinics and low-price drugs are a ploy to lure more shoppers into Wal-Mart, says IBD.  Is that wrong?  The essential truth missing from their tirades about Wal-Mart's rapacity is that it's a company, not a charity.  It must make a profit to stay in business, provide jobs and keep prices low.

Opening clinics also will likely create new enemies who fear that their practices will be harmed by the presence of price-cutting Wal-Mart clinics in their communities, says IBD.  But the issue shouldn't be about saving local medical practices any more than saving local retailers who always complain when Wal-Mart moves in.  It should be about quality health care -- and prescriptions, groceries, clothing and essential household items -- at prices all Americans can afford. Wal-Mart does that.

Source: Editorial, "Dr. Sam," Investor's Business Daily, April 26, 2007.


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