Friday, August 21, 2009

Allegra-D

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.

Wendi

5 comments:

  1. Arnau van WyngaardAugust 21, 2009 at 11:15 PM

    Thanks for sharing that testimony. I know it hurts to admit that we are selfish. And all of us are, even if we should boast about how much we care and how unselfish we are. I had a conversation with a pharmacist earlier this week and she mentioned to me how many products are kept on the shelves in a normal pharmacy. It's mind-boggling. And then I think of how things work in most of rural Africa where you might, if you are lucky, receive a basic pain killer, regardless of the reason for going to the clinic. The movie, "Yesterday", is extremely realistic about how clinics work in Africa. This is really a "must-see" movie for anyone interested in Africa.

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  2. Yes, that was a GREAT movie, I re-watched it on the flight back to America. I work in a big chain drug store, where I am reminded every day of our unlimited options for everything..we have 24 feet, 5 shelves high just for hair color, 36 feet for shampoos and conditioners, that does not even include styling products! Ridiculous really and for many people overwhelming. So many options for everything that I often am reminded that it is often our options, choices and all the THINGS that we have that make our lives so complicated and exhausting. I think that the simple way of life in Swaziland is much better in some ways...certainly a compromise between our overloaded lives and their simple ways seem like a good idea.

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  3. Great words Wendi, too much me too often

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  4. Wendi,
    Arnau linked me to this blog post via our Facebook connection. Brilliant post. I'm in the U.S. in WA state and have been following the whole healthcare debate. It's nice to know that others are picking up on the whole entitlement mentality. I, like everyone else, would like a price break, but at the end of the day, what is our attitude, right? Great post. ~Maya

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  5. Thanks Maya. Isn't it so easy to become frustrated with the "entitlement" attitudes of others without noticing our own entitlement attitudes? Reminds me of the log/eye syndrome Jesus spoke about.

    Wendi

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