Drug Costs Get Real March 6, 2014Posted by skinbad in Economics, Family.
I kind of hesitate to do this because I don’t want to get too personal, but I guess I can just throw out a few things I’ve learned over the last few months.
One of your kids getting a chronic health disorder shakes your world. It’s not life-threatening, but it is serious and something she’s going to deal with all her life.
Thank God (and science) for medications that make a miserable condition livable.
No matter how long medicines have been around, this doesn’t mean a generic version is available. If it’s not economically worth it for a drug company to produce the generic because there aren’t enough people with the condition, then there just isn’t one (although one might be available out of the country–more on that in a moment).
By most measures, I have good health insurance. I work for our state’s higher education system. It pays 60 percent of prescription costs. The drug company also gave us a discount card that takes $120 off the price each month for a year. I guess you can get a new card then, I don’t know. Even so, our out of pocket expense for this drug is hundreds of dollars each month. It’s more than any car payment I’ve ever had–not half of our mortgage, but pretty close to it.
It’s possible to keep paying this, but it’s a serious blow to the budget. So we did what a lot of people have done–started trying to find out if there are other ways to get this medicine for less money. Because it feels like you’re getting held up–that somebody is ripping you off. That it just isn’t right. Friends with other illnesses in their families told us to try this or that program to see if we can get help with the cost. But, we have insurance, we don’t qualify–at least with the ones we’ve checked on.
I started researching getting drugs from Canada. It’s not technically legal, but the FDA basically turns a blind eye to personal use prescriptions that aren’t bought in mass quantities. There are ways to check on the Canadian pharmacies to see if they are registered/legit in Canada. We did that, priced a generic alternative, emailed them our prescription and bought enough for three months for the price of one month of our out of pocket-expense with our local pharmacy. The Canadians told us it would take three weeks to arrive because it would be coming from India. We swallowed hard because that was a new wrinkle. They assured us it was exactly the same medicine.
So, (unless these pills don’t work and we have to go back to the local pharmacy) the U.S. drug company will end up getting nothing and this online Canadian pharmacy (I’m sure one of hundreds) that exists to sell medicine to U.S. citizens will split my payment with their Indian counterparts. I want the drug companies to make a profit. I want them to have enough money to do research so that better drugs can be produced. But everybody has a line and they found mine.
It is a seriously screwed up situation.