We tell all our readers that if they’re having trouble paying for their meds, it is so important to share that with their doctors. Doctors can’t help you manage your prescription drugs, if they don’t know you can’t afford them. Well, Dr. Daniel J. Stone wrote a piece for The Los Angeles Times about helping a patient manage those prescription costs, and we thought we should share it with you:
As a diabetic with high cholesterol, Joyce has been virtually uninsurable for most of the time I’ve treated her. With her pre-existing conditions, no insurer would take her even if she could afford the premium.
Insurers know that diabetics like Joyce are much more likely to become ill and generate expensive bills. The free market incentivizes them to identify high-risk individuals and exclude them.
Free-market advocates seldom focus on the plight of those priced out of the insurance market. These patients tend not to get care when they need it, and when they do, their physicians face inevitable conflicts between providing high-quality care and keeping costs down.
Recently, for example, I received a reminder from my medical group’s pharmacist that Joyce’s cholesterol is too high despite the medication she takes to control it. The pharmacist recommended switching her to a more potent drug.
But when I checked online, the cheapest local pharmacy I could find was charging $120 for a month’s worth of the recommended drug versus $6 for her current one. I told the pharmacist that I would refill her current medicine and that we should recheck in three months to see if the price for the other had dropped.
Should doctors really have to follow drug prices like market analysts in order to care for their patients? Welcome to the free market in health care.
We know it’s not the happy ending that we would all wish for. After all, Joyce still can’t afford the prescription drug that she really needs, but at least Dr. Stone knows about the issue and is helping her manage the situation. Think of if Joyce hadn’t shared the problem with Dr. Stone. He probably would have just kept prescribing the more expensive medication for her, and she probably would never have filled the prescription she couldn’t afford. Even if the cheaper prescription isn’t exactly what she needs, at least Dr. Stone knows that that is what she is taking, and will know what to do if there is a problem. Although not the ideal situation, for Joyce, it could be the difference between life or death!
Have you had trouble paying for your prescription drugs? Tell us about it in our discussion forum!
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