Disaster Capitalism with a Side of Ranch: COVID Test Price Gouging on the Prairie

The math is the math. We are all in mortal danger of getting the COVID-19 omicron variant for many reasons including terrible leadership, rampant misinformation, and people who won’t do their bare minimum part to stop the spread. Nebraska is just now hitting record highs, surpassing every past metric. Our hospitals are in a state of emergency TODAY. If you understand the course of this disease then you should know that this means in 2 weeks our hosptials will be beyond rationing healthcare. They will be in worse peril. Schools will soon close and basic services will not be provided at any level because there won’t be anyone to staff. Everyone will soon be sick.

Given this state of emergency, with current positivity rates exceeding 25%, pretty much everybody is going to need to test at some point in the next month. You might think at least at this point in the pandemic we would have at-home tests widely available. No. They should be $1 or $2 dollars, or whatever they cost to make, and they should be ubiquitous, but instead they are going for $80 on the internet in some places. But don’t think price gouging isn’t happening even at your local pharmacy.

Case in point: two Seeing Red contributors went to two different Hy-Vee’s in Nebraska for rapid tests TODAY. The limit was four. And imagine our goddamn shock and outrage to learn that the same damn test was $9.99 at one store and $12.99 at the other. That is a 30% difference people.

One of these stores is in Omaha and one in Lincoln. Same company. Same state. Hy-vee made a record of $12 billion in profits this last year, up from $10 billion the year before. With 800,000 people dead in the middle of soaring COVID-19 rates, this is the shit they pull in our communities?

And $12.99 is exactly .99 cents higher than what our insurers will supposedly reimburse us for. As if anyone has enough bandwidth or time to submit for reimbursement with an insurer who will probably deny half the claims automatically and create so much red tape that it costs more than $12 of your time to get reimbursed.

But if you do an at-home rapid test, please note the price – and share your receipts with Seeing Red. And if you think this price gouging is total bullshit like we do, feel free to call Hy-Vee corporate office and ask them why they are selling the same test for 30% higher in Omaha than in Lincoln. Here is their contact information. Fuck all corporations profiting from death and illness.

Hy-Vee, Inc.
5820 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266-8223
(515) 267-2800