People out there, we live in a “buyer beware” country, despite what you think politicians you send to Washington are doing to protect you as a citizen and a consumer. It’s time for a peaceful revolution in this country, and we can start by becoming more aware of the ways we, in the middle-class especially, are being gouged by the corporate world.
Yesterday, just before I left to pick up my Rheumatologist’s phone-in prescription from the local Smith’s Food & Drug Store (Smith’s here; I believe they are Kroger, etc., in other parts of the country) I had an “ah ha” moment. They advised by phone the cost would be $11.20 for 30 doses of a prescription-strength supplement I must take to prevent the rather severe side effects of sores in the mouth and throat that could result from the toxicity of one of the meds I must take for RA.
Hubby suggested I make calls to other pharmacies around town to see what they charged for the same supplement. Another grocery-store pharmacy nearby wanted $9.17. Interesting!! More than a $2 savings with one call; definitely better, but let’s make a couple more calls. Wal-Mart’s phone lines were incessantly busy so I called the Costco Pharmacy. After punching several different numbers, always annoying, I was finally connected to a voicemail service. I was a little bothered that I wasn’t able to speak directly to a staff member, but reasoned that this may have been the problem in my not getting through to Wal-Mart. I left a message giving all the pertinent details, and expected nothing. I’ve been promised many, many call-backs from various service providers who never call back as promised. Surprisingly, about ten minutes later, I got the call-back; $5 for the exact same supplement!
The reason I was price shopping is that my new supplemental part D Medicare plan rejected the supplement as medically unnecessary. The authorized mail-order pharmacy I’m required to use sent the prescription back to the doctor who ordered it, marked rejected. The doctor called me a couple days back to tell me he had issued an appeal to the insurance company (Secure Horizons, affiliated with United Health Care), but despite his arguing that the supplement was medically necessary because of the complexity of the drug combinations required to keep the RA in control, they rejected his appeal. He suggested that he call in a new prescription that I could buy with no insurance coverage at a local pharmacy without any further haggling.
Luckily the low price of $5 is affordable, so $60 a year is a small amount to pay to avoid mouth and throat ulcers. But what if Costco decides to up the price next month? And what if this had been a more expensive supplement or prescription that some executive in a blue suit sitting at a polished desk in a large insurance company decides not to provide regardless of what the doctor says? Why should he? Our whole country has become victims and pawns of large corporations. Sometimes I wonder how and if we’ll ever be able to fix this country from the mess our corporate-run government has made. We’re already referred to by many Europeans as the “richest third-world country” in the world!
These three things I hold to be self-evident: (1) Medications should have a fixed price; they should cost the same for everyone, insured or not, no matter what pharmacy you get them through. (2) Doctors should have the last say about prescriptions to manage medical conditions. (3) The whole medical industry needs an overhaul, including pharmaceuticals.
Michael Moore where are you? And what can we do to help?