It’s hard not to see Big Pharma in this country as one massive, ugly joke.
When I last changed jobs, I was paying $25 a month for my husband’s most important prescription. It didn’t come in a generic because Uncle Sugar decided to reward the pharma company with 3 more years of brand-name sales. When it finally did become generic, I was still responsible for paying almost $400 a month under my new job’s coverage. I was almost literally buying it by the pill – well, actually, by the week – because I couldn’t afford the lump sum amount.
Finally, I found a legit discount card online that brought the price down. The catch was, since I had already put my insurance on file at the pharmacy we’d gone to forever, they wouldn’t apply the discount card instead. So I wound up going to the “unnamed major national warehouse chain” the discount card suggested (read: “C****o” 🙂 You fill in the blanks.)
For a while, I spent about $100 a month – close to the previous weekly amount I’d paid at our pharmacy with insurance coverage. After a few months, they got a new supplier and I was paying more like $70 a month. Yet another new supplier, and for about five months, it’s been slightly less than $40 a month. By the way – if I was still paying through insurance not much had changed. I can’t imagine what people do who are stuck paying straight cash. I saw one place sell a month’s worth for about $2,500.
I’m in a new situation now, and on January 1, I’ll find out if I can afford it on my insurance or if that “warehouse” and I will stay good friends.
Why am I bringing this up? Because I have to wait until January 1 on my new job to get coverage, I’m paying cash prices, and once again, it’s nuts. I have three other prescriptions my husband needs. Two of them were at our local Wal-Mart pharmacy and even on a cash basis, we’re paying less than $10 for both.
The other prescription is at that “other” pharmacy. I called to refill it last night. After telling me I could pick it up in an hour, she asked if I wanted to know what it cost. Under insurance, I’d been paying about $1.25. I figured, well, it could be $10 now, so I said yes. Cost: over $30. After I recovered from fainting, I asked what it would cost to get two days’ worth, figuring I could transfer it to the warehouse or to Wal-Mart. Cost for two days’ medicine: $11.99. I told the lady at the pharmacy to forget it.
A quick drive across the street to the Evil Empire (well, I know some people see it this way) and a nice lady at the drop-off window took my husband’s information and told me to come back in a half-hour.
When I returned, the prescription was ready. Cost: (drumroll please) $5.33.
I know a lot of people don’t like Wal-Mart and there are probably some good reasons for that. But for those of us who aren’t paid members of the Rockefeller family (let alone a Gates, Jobs or Zuckerberg), the ability to get things we can’t do without is priceless. Until you’re in a “have to do what I have to do” situation, you cannot possibly understand. If you actually have money left from your last check after the next payday, I’m guessing this is not part of your worldview either.
For me, I’m just glad my husband has his medicine.