Monday, November 12, 2007

In Which the Protagonist Has a Small Heart Attack

Went into the pharmacy today to fill my med subscription. I'd been putting off refilling my insulin until I had my insurance card, so needless to say I was down to half a pen of Novolog and my last Lantus pen.

So I walk in and get just one thing of testing strips on top of that because I don't have the prescription refill on me cause I see my endo this week, and my last insurance company didn't cover the strips unless I had the RX.

But you can imagine my shock when the pharmacist aid said, "That'll be $342."

"I'm sorry?" I said.

"Three hundred forty-two dollars," she repeated.

"That can't be right. I have a $100 deductible, and then everything is free. They cover 100%."

She called over the pharmacist, who looked rather surprised at the slip. "Oh!" he exclaimed, "I never look at that part!"

Well, of course. Why would a pharmacist care how much we're all paying for the drugs that keep us alive.

Dude. My company is paying thousands of dollars a month so I can have this wicked-good health care and you're fucking me over.

"I can't afford this," I said, knowing full well I wasn't going to leave the pharmacy without the drugs. Because without the drugs, I will die.

So I pulled out my credit card, which now has over $12,000 on it. For just this reason.

I was so angry I couldn't speak. I wanted to scream and rage and knock something over. I was literally shaking as I left the pharmacy, I was so fucking angry. Here were all the old memories again, of being unemployed and spending putting $350 on the credit card every month that I didn't have, just so I could fucking live, digging a deeper hole just to postpone the invevitable.

And I fucking hate that feeling. I hate that dependency. I hate that my ability to fucking live could be fucked at any time by somebody fucking up their paperwork. I hate that I'll never be able to fucking work for myself because I'll always have to have employer-sponsored health insurance. I hate drugs in general and insurance companies in particular and I hate everything that has to do with anything.

Most of all, I fucking hate being poor.

NOTE: restrained phone call to the insurance company confirms that I am covered - but I must pay the first 1K out of pocket and submit my receipts to be reimbursed. I wonder if they will reimburse me for the finance charges on my credit card as well... no?

4 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Most drug companies have programs to help those who are uninsured or whose insurance doesn't cover enough of the cost.

Novo Nordisk makes Novolog -- here's the link to their patient assistance program:

Lantus is made by Sanofi Aventis. I couldn’t find anything about reimbursement assistance for Lantus, although it’s possible that they have something after you register on their site.

Most people won’t find out about company-sponsored support programs from the pharmacy or physician. When a patient goes directly to the drug company, it means that the pharmacy or doctor are not getting their cut of the cost of the prescription.

The pharmacy typically marks up the drug 100% to 200% of what they pay for it. They really don’t like to see patients get stuff for free.

That being said, it might be worth a couple hundred dollars (your finance charges?) to give both companies a call and explain how much you’ve paid out of pocket. I would not be surprised if the least you got from one or both was a month’s free supply.

(I had a friend who dropped a $200 syringe of meds. Was skeptical when I told her to call the drug company. The company sent her a new syringe with no hassles.)

Jeremy said...

It's bullshit like this that is the reason I am a one-issue voter this season. Health care reform NOW. Or I'm moving to Canada. You pick, America.

Bad Decision Maker said...

Kameron, that sucks! That feeling of being dependent, or of people being totally flippant about their control over stuff necessary for our survival is really fucking frustrating.

I think the pharmacy assistance programs anonymous suggested usually have insanely low income levels needed for qualification, way way below a level that you could actually afford the medication at (I think they're below the federal poverty levels, which are pretty damn low). Could be worth a try for a freebie for a month though, I guess.

Amylia said...

Kameron, as a type 1 diabetic, i gotta say I feel ya and I'm sorry to hear of yet another loophole. At least you have a credit card. My credit is shot and I couldn't do that even if I wanted to. It sucks....being dependent on a flawed system. I hate how expensive this shit is, test strips cost $1 a piece. Weird thing is I can get insulin here in Taiwan for a lot cheaper than in the States and I can buy it OTC, about $20 for a bottle of Humalog OTC and $35 for Lantus.