Tag Archives: patient advocacy

The Cost of Being Well

I’m still debating the eye thing.

There was so much coming at me so quickly that I focused on just one bit of info. What size needle gauge? (30) What immediate effect will it have on my vision? (“Some patients report seeing bubbly for few minutes.”)

I said I had to coordinate with someone to drive me, at least for the first one. It’s not the distance I said, it’s the traffic. You need more than two good eyes some days.

But what I really should have asked is:

What is the med?
What are its side effects?
What is the cost?
How much will insurance cover?
And: Is it experimental?

That’s why it’s recommended that you take someone with you when you go to the doctor. I’m everyone’s patient advocate for my family, but who is mine? I have the luxury of working at home. I work at will, when I have the will. The rest of my family doesn’t, they have to show up at the office every day. And anyway, it would be like the blind leading the blind.

Of course there is such a thing as moral support and I know I won’t have to go alone if I don’t want to. But in the end, all I could think of during my time with the doctor was: A needle in my eye? Are you sh*****g me?

All this got me to thinking of drugs and medicine in general. Things are changing a bit. Insurances now have to specify how much goes toward your care and how much to running their company. But what about the pharmaceuticals? Who’s yanking at those reins?

AARP Bulletin (Jan/Feb 2015) has a good article on specialty drugs. The first on the list is Humira. According to their chart, it had 5.4 billion in sales for 2013. Billions. I can’t even comprehend one million, let alone a billion.

When I was on it back in ’06 and ’07, the pharmacy said it cost $1,500 for two shots. My prescription was for an injection every two weeks. So every month I doled out a co-pay of $250. I have no idea what it costs now, but something tells me it’s not less.

A while back my ophthalmologist put me on Restasis to treat dry eyes. When I went to pick it up at the pharmacy, I almost lost my cookies. My co-pay was forty bucks, but the actual cost of the prescription for one month’s worth was $367. You’d think the sting you feel when you use the drops would be insult enough.

I won’t even spend that much on a quality leather purse, maybe at a nice resort hotel for a couple of nights, but geez, louise, how can anybody afford to be sick?

Sick on a chronic basis. Or even, sick on an acute basis. A few weeks ago, I got the insurance statement for my five-day hospital stay in November. If the numbers are true, I could have bought a very nice car with that amount.