I take this drug to help me with allergies and sinus congestion. I’ve been taking it since 2006 and it costs me $25 per month, although the retail is $138. This is one of five different prescriptions I take to help me with sinus and respiratory problems, a retail total of nearly $1000 per month for which I have a co-pay of $25 each. This week, the day after writing the blog post below, I tried to fill my prescription for Allegra-D. The pharmacy clerk told me that my cost would be $67. I objected. “No” I said, “my co-pay is $25.” The clerk politely told me that this is the price my insurance company gave this time, and so I would need to take it up with my insurance company. I left in a huff (poor sales clerk). The next day I called my insurance company. After five futile minutes of attempting to persuade them that THEY had made a mistake and needed to call my pharmacy to rectify the problem, I learned that this drug was now in a new category. It used to be a formulary drug, covered in full by my insurance, and now, all of a sudden, is considered non-formulary, not covered in full – for any of a number of reasons – none of which mattered one bit to me. I complained to the insurance rep about my coverage. I complained about the money-hungry pharmaceutical companies. I told him (like it mattered) about how many different prescriptions I take and how I simply couldn’t afford to pay $67 for Allegra-D, even though within two fillings we will have met our annual out-of-pocket maximum and then will then pay NOTHING for any prescription for the rest of 2009.
And then I hung up the phone and Jesus nudged me on the shoulder. We had a little walk to the woodshed (ouch – I’m still stinging). I was reminded of all my options. Let’s see. I could take one month to see what happens if I don’t take Allegra-D. Maybe I don’t need it anymore. I could try an over-the-counter alternative, something similar but much less expensive (even less than $25). I could call my doctor and see if there is something else he could prescribe that is on the formulary list. Or I could pay the $67 – if it really matters to my health I can certainly afford the extra $42 for one or two months.
As I write this, I realize that I have at least four different options, none of which seemed reasonable while I was talking with the pharmacy clerk or the insurance rep, because, after all, I’m ENTITLED to have my Allegra-D, right?
The attitude of entitlement isn’t an African or American problem. It certainly isn’t a problem demonstrated only by the poor and foreign to the middle and upper classes. It is a human problem. This selfish nature in each of us cries out about our rights. It is narcissism in its finest and I wear it well. It seems I had better examine my own entitlement attitudes before being too critical of the entitlement attitudes of my fellow Americans or my Swazi friends, who, by the way, have no health care options when their noses are stuffy.
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