- Personal Finance
Discount Rx – A Tale of Four Pharmacies for Uninsured Americans
Rx Bottles and Packages
Pharmacies for Uninsured Americans
When the going gets tough in a recession or depression, “the tough” get persistent and creative. Furthermore, when “the tough” have enough knowledge of international news, they strongly suspect there are not GOOD reasons to justify the cost of medication in the United States.
Who are “the Tough?”
In this article, the tough refers to citizens without health insurance. For reasons of employee benefit cost-cutting by employers and ineligibility for health insurance due to underemployment and unemployment, the number of uninsured is increasing. Furthermore, the tough have or had a little bit of income or savings which disqualifies them from the health care coverage given to citizens in poverty. Irony can be unjust. These people work to stay out of poverty and are rewarded by society with absence of health insurance.
Silvia’s body does not produce a chemical needed for daily functioning. The good news is that the condition was diagnosed and a simple treatment is available: daily prescription medication. The bad news is that Silvia has not had medical insurance for 5 years. Budgeting to pay for her daily medication keeps her on her toes.
In the past, her physicians funneled what samples they could to her. This helped with costs. However, like everything else, the drug company freebies to doctors have dried up. Furthermore, Silvia uses a medication which was not available as a generic until a few months ago. Although she likes the laws of the United States which work to insure safe medication production, desperation led to more creative, open thinking. She started researching on the internet and decided to try a Canadian pharmacy.
Silvia used the Canadian pharmacy for years. She was pleased with the medication effectiveness and trusted the Canadian supervision of the manufacturing, no matter from where it came. Over the period of time, these shipments arrived from Germany, India, and Guam. She did not consider changing pharmacies until she learned her medication finally had gone generic. As a consequence, she researched her options again.
Wide Disparity of Prices
She found these prices for a 90-day supply from four potential sources, domestic and foreign. Would you like to guess the type of pharmacy providing each?
National retail store with pharmacy department - $400 for 90 day supply of generic
National drugstore retail chain - $350 for 90 day supply of a generic
Outside-the-USA pharmacy - $153 plus $5 shipping plus $5 international currency conversion fee by the credit card bank
In-the-USA “warehouse” pharmacy - $47 plus $7 shipping
What in the world is going on? In the realm of prescription medications available to procure, WHY is there such a huge difference to the consumer?
Sometimes Americans appear to be paranoid about the unfamiliar and, in particular, paranoid about “socialized” medicine. However, other countries which we generally regard as our friends and allies have national health care and they have not slipped down to Hades in the proverbial handbasket. It can be offered in democratic, free countries.
If there was some baseline of prescription medication services for all Americans, I wonder where the price of the above Rx would settle? Can the USA dip its toes into the waters of national health care starting with medication prices? I feel there should be concern for citizens who are struggling economically but who are above levels to qualify for Medicaid, and other low-income services, and too young to qualify Medicaire and older low-income citizen assistance plans.
If anyone can explain this, I sincerely request that you comment.
Photo and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan, all rights reserved.