Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Health is Expensive!

My boss's son is in 7th grade. School started on the 25th of August this year, and by this past Sunday, the 30th, he was sick. The poor kid was running a fever of over 103, and normal OTC fever reducers and allergy medicine weren't helping. Ramona took him to their family doctor, who diagnosed him with "Type 1 Influenza." "Type 1" might or might not be the H1N1 virus. They further traumatized the young man by putting a mask on him, and more-or-less treating him like a pariah. And, of course, they wrote him a prescription. Now, this was obviously not the usual antibiotic, because it cost $85.00. Ramona didn't remember the name of the drug.

Oh. And the other residents of the household had to have the same prescription. As there are two of them, that was a further $170.00. They have medical insurance, but not prescription coverage.

$255 for medicines to cure a fever.

It's a good thing I was not around Ramona on Sunday and Monday, or they probably would have wanted me to buy $85 worth of medicine, too.

Guess what? I don't have that much money to spend on a prescription.

What happens when people like me get sick like that? Not poor enough to qualify for any sort of indigent care, but not wealthy enough to purchase individual insurance.

WHY is it so wrong to expect the government to do something about this? I am not asking for free health care. I am asking for health care that I can afford.

I may be 60, but I'm really pretty healthy. I quit smoking four years ago. I rarely get sick, I have no chronic illness. My knees hurt, but I have a strong aversion to surgery, and would rather use a less invasive (and less expensive) treatment. It's not as if I am wanting to suck the "system" dry. As SSS used to say, "I'm not out to set the world on fire; I just want a little heat in my room."


  1. I am a big supporter of health care reform. I hope it happens soon.

    That said, I also need to mention that often physicians prescribe the newest antibiotics, when one of the older ones will work just fine.

    A similar incident recently happened to a friend of mine. Her daughter had an ear infection, so she took her to one of those minor emergency clinics. She called me hysterically crying because the prescription was going to cost her $125. I told her to go back to the clinic and explain to them she couldn't afford the prescription. They wrote her a new one that she was able to fill for $4.

    The difference? The second prescription had to be taken 4 times a day for 10 days, while the newer 'wonder drug' only had to be taken once a day for 5 days. She would have paid $121 extra just for convenience sake.

    Drug reps do a very good job convincing physicians to prescribe the hottest new medicines. So, like with anything else, Buyer Beware!

  2. Thats not for an anti biotic, its for an anti viral (which is why the rest of the family has to take it) H1N1 cannot (or any other flu for that matter be treated with anti-biotics.) Probably Tamiflu. And it isnt covered under any health insurance (I just bought a dose just in case through work and it was $95).

    Chances are it is H1N1 because seasonal flu is not around yet. Only pandemic flu's are year round.

    Also, if her child didnt get the medication within 24 hours it isnt going to do a thing for him if it is H1N1. It will help his family fight it though.

    (Can you tell I just took a class about this at work?)

  3. Crazy thing is there are companies like Pfizer being fined BILLIONS of dollars for taking doctors to lunch, etc. The consumers eventually pay for all of that because you know that Pfizer isn't going to go that deep into their own pockets without recouping their loss.

    Wonder what the cost of their drugs might look like if they weren't passing along their legal costs and fines when we buy those prescriptions.

    Drugs prices are just crazy!

  4. LOL! Thanks, Melissa. He's back at school today, so all is well...I hope.

    Anonymous, they always tell us that their profits go to research, which is, of course, very expensive. However, their CEOs seem to be making more money than some entire nations. Just what the hell does an executive do to be worth $34Mil a year?

    And it was the FDA, not all that research, that saved us from thalidomide. That was being pushed very hard, back in the 60s...until the birth defects info started coming to light.

    They develop new drugs and foist them off on the American public, with barely enough research to say, "Well, we think it probably works, at least it did in our test group...but we didn't test it on children and old people, and you know they metabolize drugs differently...Oh, and it also makes your eyelashes thicker (breasts larger, pimples smaller)...maybe we can market it for that..."

  5. The doctor diagnosed wrong. It wasnt the flu. BUT, if it is Tamiflu or the other anti viral drugs that they use I suggest she keep it. (it has a shelf life of 7 years). There is a possibility that the fairly benign H1N1 virus could mutate with the Avian flu within the year and it could be very serious in this case. (at this point Avian flu can be transmitted between birds and humans, but humans cannot transmit it further).

    I will PDF you the information we got if you like from work tomorrow.

    Flu symptoms come on VERY fast, and are very strong. You are sick for at LEAST a week and can contaminate someone just by being near them.

    A lot of times people think they have the flu and its just bronchitis or a bad cold.

  6. I work in a pharmacy as a pharmacy technician. Some medications are unbelievably expensive. It is hard to see people cringe when they have to pay a lot for their medications. The flip side of this is I also see people who get their medication paid for by the state (medicaid). Some customers pick up many, many prescriptions and pay no money whatsoever. These are the people that seem to complain the most that they are not getting good service!

    Surely we can come up with a system that helps people in need, but doesn't feed into the abuses I see daily.

  7. Allison, I confess I used to be one of the complainers. And I have great prescription coverage.

    Finally it dawned on me.. I dont have to wait the dreaded HOUR.

    When I get back from the doctors office from lunch ususally I fax copies of my prescriptions to them with my contact number if there are any questions. I give up the actual original prescriptions to them when I go to pick them up.

    I am not on Medicaid BTW, but have to pay a co-pay, and my Pharmacy is REALLY slow. So that much has helped.

  8. Some tips for those without prescription coverage, and even for those with... http://clarkhoward.com/topics/prescription_plans.html

    Also, always take the full printed list of $4 meds from Wal-Mart (or wherever you go for Rx drugs) to the doctor with you and ASK if one of those will work for you. Doctors, generally, have little to no idea what the cost of the prescriptions they are writing cost.

    The good ones also tend to really work with you on office visits, if they know you are paying "out of pocket".