By Judy Reiss
Although I hate to admit it, it seems that too many of my columns these days are ones where I am complaining about something! And believe me that isn’t the way I would like them to be. It just seems that, for me anyway, things have changed so fast that I am really unable to either catch up or, at least, stay even! And I am back with my arthritic fingers on my keyboard today because of what just happened to me and it has me so mad I just don’t know what to do. Of course, maybe it is just that I am catching up with all the other seniors who have had this problem for ages. But here it is.
I called the pharmacy where I get my prescriptions yesterday because I just realized that I am almost out of the Lantis, which I take for my diabetes. When I realized that I was on the last “pen” that I had, I couldn’t figure out why they hadn’t send me more like they usually do. So, I called and asked for a renewal. The young man that I spoke to was very pleasant and told me that my prescription had run out and that I would need to call my doctor and get a new one. In fact, he told me that he would also call and perhaps that would speed things up. I called, left a message with my doctor’s nurse and didn’t think any more about it.
Well, today, about an hour ago I got another call from the young man at the pharmacy who told me that he just wanted to talk to me before he got another prescription for me. It seems that the Lantis which I have taken for years has gone up a tad in price. My copay was now going to be $150 per box! I swear to you I was so surprised that I really couldn’t think what to say. However, he had a suggestion. He suggested another type of insulin, the exact same as Lantis he assured me, I could get for $15 for three Boxes. What? I shouted into the phone, how could insulin that is exactly the same cost so much less? And I have to admit he tried to explain it to me but because I was so shocked, it wasn’t until I thought about it later that I guess I understood. Lantis is so much more expensive because of the name of the product. I guess if you called me Myrle Street instead of Judith Reiss I could get a lot more money!
However, things didn’t stop there. When he called my doctor’s office to get permission to change the prescription from Lantis to the other one, he found out that my doctor is on vacation and won’t be back for a week. And the doctor who is covering her patients doesn’t feel comfortable switching me from one type of insulin to another. And I do think he is probably right.
So, I sat in the kitchen with the young pharmacy man on the phone and tried to think what to do. Fortunately, my doctor will be back from her vacation in a week. And I am pretty sure I have enough Lantis to wait until she gets back. And I have to be absolutely sure to call her in a week and get this whole thing straightened out. What I can’t do is say “The hell with it” and just get another box of Lantis. In fact, I don’t plan on ever getting any Lantis again! $150? You have to be kidding!
So, here is my question for you, I know that I am not the only senior citizen who is being screwed by the drug companies! So, let’s think about it. I have worked since I was 13. I went to a state college because it was the only one I could afford and even then I had to work 4-5 hours a day to work my way through. I really didn’t mind because I loved it but it would have been a lot more fun to have had a free pass!
When I graduated from college, I moved to Vermont the same day! And I taught school for two years. Although I have to admit I wasn’t a very good teacher, but I showed up and did the best I could, for an amazingly little amount of money. And when I started, I was only 20.
After two years, I started my own business. I had the first day care in any ski area in the country and I worked 7 days a week for 25 years. And did I mention I also had three children at the same time?
Until about 10 years ago, I worked every single day of my life. And then, unfortunately, I had to retire due to health issues. And fortunately, I don’t have to say “The End.” The only reason I am telling you the story of my life is that I have never received a single dollar of government money. We had to tighten our belts quite often but I never considered taking any type of assistance. Why? Well, I just wasn’t brought up that way. If you can afford it, you can buy it. If not, you have to wait until you can!
Which brings up my long-winded thought. How is it that those of us who have worked our whole lives and never took anything from anybody, are now being screwed by the pharmaceutical companies? I know that my story is nothing compared to other’s who need their medications or they will die and their costs are being allowed to go through the roof. Of course, we all know that the rich are getting obscenely richer and the poor are getting poorer. But I never realized that the rich were getting where they are on the backs of the poor.
I have to tell you that I am extremely lucky that three of my children are registered nurses and one is a doctor of physical therapy. They make sure that I do what I am supposed to do health-wise. Although I think that it must be a pain for them, it is annoyingly great for me! But it does make me wonder what the person does who doesn’t have as much help as I do. If you know a senior who is either alone or just needs a little help, do it. Nothing is more of a surprise to find that you are the person who needs a helping hand. Believe me, it happens much sooner than you think! And the drug companies can’t wait to get you in their claws!