The other day, I went to the dermatologist for a routine checkup. I usually see one of the physician assistants and this time I got someone new. As usual, she found questionable moles and wanted to treat me for a common skin condition. The dermatologist loves those of us with Irish skin!

She prescribed four different items – a wash, some creams and an oral drug. Honestly, she didn’t know what would work for me, but that was her starting point. She gave me a coupon for one free cream, a $35.00 off coupon for one of the lotions and a card that gave me the oral drug for $20.00 a month for the next three months. On the way to the pharmacy, I called in to activate the $20 card. I had no idea how long I needed to stay on these drugs.

When I got to the pharmacy, my doctor’s office had already called in the prescriptions. I stood there while the pharmacist put the coupons into the system. The free lotion was normally $250.00. Yep! That’s what it would cost me next month. The oral meds were $700.00. I am not kidding. The other two items would be another $1000.00. Grand total – just under $2000. This medication would last me 30 days and we didn’t even know if it would work.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I asked about the $35.00 coupon. Oh, she applied it to the other $200.00 lotion. I asked about the $20.00 card. Yes, that card would cover the $700.00 oral meds for three months. That would bring my total down to $1320. Let me back up and say that we have great insurance. However, the insurance would not cover any of it, nor was there a generic equivalent available for any of the meds.

What could I do? I didn’t have an extra $1320.00 each month to spend on meds. Again, let me remind you that this is a common skin condition. This was not an experimental drug for a terminal illness. I am sure that there are hundreds of drugs to choose from. I asked the pharmacist if anyone had ever refused the prescription based on cost before. She told me that yes; people do it all the time. I told her that I would call the doctor and get something else. Thankfully, the pharmacist told me that they could do it for me. They could offer suggestions of drugs that my insurance did cover.

The next day, I got a call from the pharmacy telling me that my prescriptions were ready. I braced myself and asked how much they were. These generic drugs were $10.00 each. Much better!

What angered me were the lack of concern and/or knowledge of the cost of the drugs that the she was prescribing. Did the local pharma rep come in, wine and dine them and ask them to push these drugs? Like I said, this was a starting off point. If you don’t know if something will work, wouldn’t you start with the cheaper drugs? I am guessing that she had no idea how much these cost. I am hoping that she was at least informed enough to know that the drugs did not have a generic equivalent. Most of the doctors that have prescribed something for me over the years have been concerned and informed about the cost of the drugs. They have always found drugs with generic equivalents and asked me about my insurance. She had no idea what kind of insurance I had, if any.

Sadly, I could have been on a government program. These are tough times. You can’t tell if someone is on a government program by looking that them. When I called to activate that card to get the $700 oral drugs down to $20, they asked me if I was on Medicare or a list of several other programs. If I was, the $20 card would be void. Basically, the government would have been stuck with the $700 bill.

No offense to the pharma reps, doctors, insurance companies, and our government, but I really think you four need a reality check. Individuals cannot afford to sit in the crossfire of your battles with our health care system. I think the Golden Rule should apply here – Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. Treat our money as if it were your own. That would be a good starting off point.

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