One of the problems of chronic illness is the cost of prescription drugs that are needed. Drug costs keep rising, and insurance companies are becoming more stubborn about not paying for drugs that patients need. A study by AARP reports, "In 2013, retail prices for 227 widely used brand name prescription drugs increased by 12.9 percent." The study also notes, "Brand name drug prices increased more than eight times faster than general inflation in 2013 (12.9 percent versus 1.5 percent)." Other drugs increased as much as 113% over eight years. Yet in 2013,the cost of living increase for Social Security payments was only 1.5%; in some recent years it was 0%.
I have most of my drugs compounded. This means that the pharmacy takes the drug powder which they obtain from the manufacturer and put it in gelatin capsules in the correct doses for me. If filler is needed, they use probiotics. It means there are no food colorings, no dyes, no artificial flavorings, and no gluten in the pills. For me, it's the difference between tolerating most drugs and not tolerating them. It also allows us to create non-standard doses that aren't usually available. For example, I take between 7mg and 9 mg of one drug four times a day. It's only available in 10 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg, and 75 mg dosing in the standard pills. For me, the 10 mg would be too much. Because I need my drugs compounded, I am limited to using compounding pharamcies. The one I normally use is also a regular pharmacy, and I usually get any prescriptions the rest of my family needs there as well. It's a small local business with only two stores, and I appreciate that the staff there recognizes me.
One of my sons has been facing health problems for the past six months. We finally got a true diagnosis, and he's begun treatement, involving flower essences, herbs and Western drugs. One of the drugs was no issue; my son's prescription insurance through his father covered it with no problem. The second drug the insurance company refuses to cover at a rate that the pharamcies can afford because it's less than the pharmacy's costs. They end up having to sell it at a loss, so many of them refuse to dispense it. I asked the pharmacy what it would cost if we paid out of pocket, and I was told $450 for the 30 days supply we needed. Eeks.
At that point, I called Medsavers Pharmacy. Medsavers does not accept insurance, and they only stock generic drugs. These two things allow them to sell drugs at a lower cost than most pharmacies. If a patient needs a prescription drug, then Medsavers will order it but the patient must obtain a prescription for the entire bottle. When we had older dogs with health problems (including congestive heart failure and Cushing's disease), we actually got a large percentage of their drugs at Medsavers because it was so much cheaper than buying them through a vet.
The woman who answered the phone at Medsavers was pleasant and let me know that they didn't carry that particular dose of this drug, so we would need to get a prescription for the entire bottle from our doctor. The total cost for the entire bottle which would last my son a month? $62.42. That's versus the $450 I got quoted at my compounding pharmacy. So I got the doctor to write the prescription as needed asking him to respect the almost $400 difference between the two pharmacies. Because the doctor is very sensitive to patient's financial issues, he had no problem doing so. I've known many friends with prescription insurance who've used Medsavers for some of their prescriptions because it was cheaper to pay out of pocket at Medsavers than to pay a copay at another pharmacy. That's essentially what we did here.
Medsavers Pharmacy advertises themselves as specializing in helping uninsured customers. They are centrally located in Austin, and they will ship wherever it is legal to do so. I think Medsavers is a fabulous example of a business which works to help those in need yet at the same time is a financially profitable business for the owners. It is possible to help others without engaging in extortion, though our health industry would like us to believe otherwise.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC