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Posted: 08 Aug 2018, 18:30
This story is going to resonate loud and clear with Gary because I know you have had more than your fair share of encounters with the "system" of healthcare in this country. Without getting political about it, all I can say is that there is a lot that needs to be improved.
I realize there are people a lot sicker and a lot poorer than I am. My rant here probably is not justified, but I need to tell somebody about the frustration I'm encountering. One of my illnesses has to do with my blood forming clots for no apparent reason. After being hospitalized a time or two with life threatening pulmonary embolisms, my doctor decided it would be a good idea to put me on blood thinners for the rest of my life. The go-to drug is Coumadin. Right from the first prescription my insurance company objected, as if they know better than my doctor. Warfarin was cheaper and they had no other justification for not paying for the Coumadin. My doctor conceded, and went with what the insurance people decided.
Warfarin is a tricky drug that can interact in strange ways with other drugs. It works on the vitamin K level in your blood so that you have to be careful what you eat too. I was pretty stable using Warfarin for about ten years. Then, blood clots started to form again. That's a whole different story I don't want to get into in this thread, but I will say my trust of the doctors in Missouri has been diminished. Anyway, after some ultrasounds to confirm what was happening the blood thinner drug was changed from Warfarin to Xaralto. While the Xaralto seems to be doing its job, my co-payment rose from $12 for the Warfarin to $145 for the Xaralto. That's a pretty hefty price to pay for a pill 1/4th the size of the one I was taking. It's an outrageous co-pay, but it's doable.
When I received my monthly statement from the insurance company, they claimed to be paying out over $1000 for the Xaralto. That explains the rise in my co-payment. Being allied with Medicare, there is a limit to how much I can spend on drugs every year, or rather, how much the insurance company will pay. Once they pay out $3700 (more or less) they stop paying for any medications at all. At that point I will have to pay the retail price for Xarelto, which is nearly $1200. It's the old donut-hole trick that Gary has explained to us more than once. I won't go bankrupt paying $1200 for pills I can hardly see with the naked eye, but it will have an impact on the budget. With luck I'd only have to pay this once a year, depending on how many other expensive drugs I have to consume in the meantime. It all gets reset back to zero in January, when the new insurance cycle starts again.
None of the above is too bothersome for me. I know what to expect so that there have been no surprises. But then I found out some people can get Xarelto free, as in at no cost whatsoever. My son-in-law also has to take blood thinners and was put on Xarelto right off. The medical staff did all the paperwork for him, and he now gets free Xarelto. He lives in Florida and runs a large division of a major medical supply company. In other words he is making mega bucks working. So, I asked my daughter how he is able to get free Xarelto, and she sent me the information. My hematologist gave me the same information when I told him about my concerns. My primary care physician also gave me the identical information. All I had to do was go to their website, apply for a discount card, and get authorized. I did that and was told I don't qualify for the freebie because I'm covered by Medicare Part D.
There is a reason I must use Medicare. I'm old and I'm not working and my income is not half a million dollars a year. Thus I need all the help I can get to pay for expensive necessities. I can't afford to drop Medicare so that I can apply for free drugs. There are too many other things Medicare provides for very well. But here, my highly successful and quite wealthy son-in-law qualifies for drug assistance, and I do not. It's not his fault. I understand that. There is simply something wrong with the system that allows such situations to arise in the first place.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 09 Aug 2018, 12:02
You don't want to get me going on what cons Big Pharma has been pulling for years.
Even items that are now Generic, they prevent from being manufactured, or find other ways to keep people from getting them, unless it is through them at exorbitant prices.
Epinephrine is one example of a drug that only costs pennies, but try to buy it.
About the only way you can get it is in a super high priced pen.
Insulin too has been generic for years, but no one makes a generic version. WHY?
Seems as soon as one patent runs out, they come up with some change and make a new patent, then claim the old formula who's patent expired is no longer a viable product, sometimes even claiming its dangers of use.
There are a few meds I'm supposed to be taking, but I cannot afford them, so I do without.
I even changed insurance companies to one that had it in their formulary, but no sooner as I was locked in for a year, they either dropped the drug or moved it up two tiers.
One med I was on, one that worked well and was cheap, less than 4 bucks for a 3 month supply, the pharmacies quit carrying it saying it was a discontinued drug. I finally found a few pharmacies who still carried it, but now they wanted 56 bucks for a 1 month supply. So I had to quit taking it too.
Even so, I don't want centralized medicine. I have friends who live in countries with national medical and it is horrible.
One friends daughter will die without proper care, so he's scrambling to go out of the country to save her life. Trouble is, he cannot afford the cost to do so and is looking for help.
The other friend occasionally comes to the US for their medical treatments due to time constraints placed on them at home.
I have two meds I found I can get at WalMart OTC for only 88 cents each for a two week supply, when they have it.
Otherwise the same meds cost 12 to 18 bucks, generic and name brands.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 09 Aug 2018, 16:37
I won't comment on why the prices of drugs are what they are. There are a lot of factors affecting price and greed is only one of them. The boiling point for me is that my SIL can afford to pay retail for the drugs he is getting free. Well, free for the moment, as it turns out. The company offering the zero cost Xarelto is doing exactly what Medicare Part D is doing. I've not read anything about how the company's business runs, but my guess is they are in insurance provider. The reason I suspect that is because they have the same limit on drug expenses as Medicare, i.e., $3750 during any given year. Once the company pays out the limit you are on your own. The difference is that I have a co-payment to make while that other company has none.
We can assume it's corporate greed that makes Xarelto an $1100 drug in the first place. Fine. Don't like it, but I can accept that fact. What I don't get is why I end up paying because I am covered by Medicare. I think the answer has to do with double coverage. That's illegal in most places. That's also why I suspect Janssen is an insurance company.
St Lukes Hospital, home of my PCP, has a Financial Counselor for folks like me. She called me at the behest of my doctor and started a process wherein I may be able to obtain Xarelto free. The same folks who refused to accept my application into their program do allow Medicare people to "sample" Xarelto free of charge for 30 days. That's obviously something Johnson&Johnson is pushing (makers of Xarelto) so that they can lure you into using their product. However, after the 30 days, I will no longer be able to get free drugs. The Counselor arranged for me to pick up the 30 pills today, which I did. I was amazed that she could and would do this. The reason she is doing it is to buy time. Apparently Johnson&Johnson has a patient assist program that she thinks I will qualify for. The application process takes about two weeks and the free pills will get me through that. One of the amazing things she told me is that it's very possible to get the tier lowered, which she will try to do if I don't get the drugs free. It's all income based, and she thinks I will qualify.
I can't say this kind of support does not exist in the Chicago area, but I never heard of it up there. This whole story began when I casually mentioned to my doctor that Xarelto is very expensive and I may run into donut-hole problems. He then said he would try to take care of what I need, and handed me several bottles of free samples. Apparently he contacted the Financial Counselor after that. This kind of outreach is in high contrast to the medical environment I came from. I feel a little bit guilty that people are being so nice and considerate. It's not just me, from what I understand. It's just the way the do things here.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 10 Aug 2018, 12:45
My heart doctor gave me free samples of a drug he wanted me on, after the first drug I paid for failed to do the job and I ended up having a second heart attack. I won't survive a third, so he made sure I had the drug for the time I needed to take it. I really appreciated that he could do it for me.
My SS check is around one-half of what you hear the average is. By the time they take out for my Medicare and Drug Plan, and I pay for my supplemental health insurance, I have less than 500 bucks a month to cover all the rest of my bills. My combined utility bills, water, electric, sewer runs about 300 bucks a month. Out of that 200 bucks left over I have to pay for Real Estate taxes, car insurance, and my co-pay to doctors. If I have anything left over, I use it to help the frau pay for her insulin. With zero left over, I still do not qualify for a freeze on our real estate taxes, or for drug assistance programs.
We have now gone through all of our retirement savings covering the frau's meds and other expenses, so perhaps we can finally start getting some help with meds, at least we hope so, but are still batting zero.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 11 Aug 2018, 10:01
The free samples from the doctors bring to mind stories my wife would tell me when she was the office manager for a group of doctors. One reason the price of drugs is so high has to do with the advertising involved. Drug companies would send reps to the doctors and try to sell their products. There apparently is no limit to what can be spent on this kind of advertising. For example, one company would cater an elaborate brunch once a month in the suite the doctors used. It wasn't sandwiches from Subway either. The banquet was billed as advertising and dozens upon dozens of sample drugs were left behind for the doctors to dispense and experiment with on their patients. Some of the drugs, such as your heart meds, were quite exotic. It's amazing they can leave samples of such "expensive" medications.
I never thought I would qualify for any government handouts other than social security, which is why I never applied for any such thing. I did try to get exemptions on my real estate taxes, but as you say the tax relief is means tested. My means exceeded the limits set by the county assessor. The Medicare web site lists a few resources for financial aid and I just ignored all that in the past. One suggestion was to contact the manufacturer of the drug to see if they had any programs available. That is what the hospital counselor did for me. She contacted Johnson&Johnson and put in my application. She is an experienced woman and obviously has done this before. I questioned whether or not I actually qualified and gave her a ballpark figure for our income. She thought it was worth a try and had a Plan-B in mind if the outright assistance from J&J didn't get approved.
Johnson&Johnson is not the only company with a financial assistance program. There is no standard and each company can set it's own qualifications as well as determine which medications to offer. At first I thought this was mighty generous of the drug company and that they were going for a corporate tax write off. I'm sure that's part of the reason they are doing it at all. But, given my wife's experience with these people I'm more inclined to think this is all an advertising gimmick. There most likely will be an end to the "free" Xarelto, i.e., after they establish a specific market share. Once that guaranteed cash flow is established, that will be a great time to end their promotional program. They should have other drugs to offer free by then.
The concept of universal insurance (free health care for all) is wonderful. Most countries operate that way in fact. Like yourself, I've heard and read a lot of criticism about such a system. I've also been through the wringers of our system. When I was working and could afford anything I wanted, the American system of health care was unquestionably the best in the world. Things have changed over the years. I'm older and the system is more corrupt than it used to be. It may just be time to reconsider what we are doing here.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 11 Aug 2018, 11:02
The frau is always looking for ways to get a break on her meds and insulin. Even with some help here and there, it still costs her several thousand dollars per year for her meds. And we have one of the best supplemental drug plans you can get. Trouble is, so much is not covered, or placed in a super high tier.
After my late wife's insurance capped out, I went through all of our savings, at the rate of over 25,000 per month to pay medicals bills. Sold off almost all of our assets, which reduced our income from them to zero. Then in the end, I kept refinancing my house until I owed more on it than it could be sold for. After she passed away I returned to my home renovation business and was just beginning to see daylight when 9/11 hit and blew that business right out of the water.
I ended up holding an auction to sell off everything I owned, and made just enough to pay off all of my debts, and with about three grand to my name, I bought a small cargo trailer for our personal affects and moved south.
Big Pharma has way to many Poly-TICK-ians in their pockets is why healthcare in this country has steadily gone downhill.
They have prevented any cures since polio to be allowed in our country.
And made sure through laws they got set in place, that no cure will ever be allowed here.
The two main things are:
#1 For a cure to be recognized, it must be patentable. The excludes all Prior Art and anything naturally occurring.
#2 It must be able to be synthesized. No known natural ingredient or cure will work if it is synthesized.
Here is something for you to think about also.
They send you to the radiology department to see where the cancer is located.
They use a dye to make it visible, AND a special natural ingredient that takes the dye ONLY to the Cancer Cells.
Because this special ingredient is naturally occurring it cannot be used with Chemo to affect a cure.
They cannot use it to send the Chemo ONLY to the Cancer Cells.
This is one of the reasons Chemo does not work, and attacks all the good cells too!
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 11 Aug 2018, 13:11
Polio has no cure. It can be prevented from occurring, which is what the Salk vaccine does. It was thought to be wiped out but made a come back recently. To my way of thinking a "cure" would eliminate the cause as well as the symptoms. That didn't happen with polio. It will not happen with cancer either. There are bacteria being field tested which does exactly as you suggested, i.e., target malignant cells only. You and I will be dead before those trials are over and the treatment is released for general use. But even then, there will still be multiple causes for cancer. Perhaps it can be contained some day, as was polio, but there is no such thing as a cure. The physics of Planet Earth would have to be changed in order for that to happen.
I feel your pain about patents, especially as they apply to medications. The patent laws will change, but I'm not sure you or I will live to see that. It's reasonable for a big pharma company to lobby for laws that favor it's industry. All industries are engaged in that kind of activity. It's an outgrowth of capitalism, which happens to not be entirely compatible with democracy. Entities and individuals with money have the power. You knew that money is what makes the world go round, not love. Didn't you? It's too early to tell, but I think we are on the brink of a change in the ground rules for politics. Not only in this country, but also abroad. Call it what you may, but populism most likely will be the wave of the future. The time has come for the little guy to take over the controls.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 12 Aug 2018, 12:01
I do know something has to give and soon too!
Every great nation fell when their tax base crossed 25%, among other reasons as we all know.
We have been artificially held up by various wheeling and dealing by poly-TICK-ians who reap the benefits of high taxes.
I don't think most people realize just how much they are paying in taxes.
For many it is well over 75% of their income, and for some on only a fixed income I've seen the lose everything because taxes were well over 100% in some cases almost 1000% of their income. The only way to pay these taxes is to sell off everything costing them those high taxes. In other words selling the family estate rather than passing it on to their children.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 12 Aug 2018, 14:30
You touch on a salient point about my living in Missouri. I lived in Cook County Illinois, the same county encompassing the city of Chicago. The taxes there are at the top rankings, even more so than Silicon Valley in some cases. One year within the current decade those real estate taxes doubled. I talked it over with the county assessor because my house was 1500 sq feet and all the homes around me were double that. Yet, my tax bill was the highest on the block. The assessor looked things up and told me that the rate is so high because I have an all brick house. It doesn't matter that I take up half the living space nor does it matter that I'm retired and my neighbors are working. I figured it out. If the taxes kept increasing at the rate they are this decade, I'll be out of money in 8-9 years. What I didn't understand is why in all hell anybody would want to buy my house given the expenses. The older couple who bought it did so only a few days after listing. I just don't get it.
I'd have to question some of your observations about taxes vs viability of societies. I know the people in the United Kingdom pay a lot more tax than we do here in the states. They get a hell of a lot more social services too, for which they are paying of course. I don't see the UK declining any time soon (Brexit notwithstanding). There may be some correlation, but it certainly isn't a case of causation.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 13 Aug 2018, 11:34
It's interesting how each county determines how it taxes homes and property.
TN is hawked as a low tax state, when the total opposite is true.
The number of benefits living in St. Louis County far outweighed what taxes we did pay.
Sure we thought they were high, but in comparison to other places, and what those taxes paid for, we were cheap.
Here in TN, my real estate taxes are double what they were in St. Louis County, and to compound the misery, we are taxed twice for the same services, or lack thereof.
And nothing here is free. Zoo, Science Center, etc. all have high admission costs. The tiny Science Center has twenty year old hand-me-down stuff from St. Louis and other cities, and there really isn't anything to see at the zoo worth going.
You are billed for using any emergency service, like Fire or Ambulance.
My house in Creve Coeur had a full basement. Taxes were calculated based on sq. footage of the main floor at one rate, the basement at another lower rate, unless it was finished, then it depended on how it was finished. Plus the sq. footage of the front yard and back yard also at separate rates. Although my taxes went up every year, they were never out of line with what my neighbors were taxed. The only thing that increased my tax was the fact I was the only house with a driveway connected to my street on my block. My neighbor to the east's driveway was on a side street, and my neighbor on the west had a driveway connecting to the main street through the subdivision. In a nutshell, my taxes covered the road maintenance fee for almost an entire block, which is why that line item was slightly higher than other neighbors. By the same token though, some other line items were lower than theirs. No utility easements on my property due to the way the utility easement ran between the houses partly in each of their backyards. This easement ended at my back fence.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 14 Aug 2018, 08:19
I live in St Charles County and haven't figured out how they tax my real estate. It's probably not complicated, but I never got around to it. The county assessor sends me a note at the beginning of each year telling me how much my house is worth. It's doubled in value since we moved in, according to the assessor. We probably were getting a discount and now it looks like we are in line with the rest of the community.
One of the things I do not like about where I live is the Home Owners Association. They are totally useless as far as I'm concerned, and still extort $400/yr from me. It's that cheap because they don't come by to cut my grass, wash my siding, or clear the snow (the county takes care of the snow for me) like they do to the row houses in back of me. Their fee is 3x mine so I'm not supposed to complain. All I get from the community is use of the pool, which I have never done and never will. The association reports to a management company, which they hire out of the annual fee. I have no idea what the management company does and would vote to eliminate them if I could. I lived in houses for 60 years without being managed and got along very well. Somebody here was sold a bill of goods. Unfortunately, I can't opt out. It's a condition for occupancy.
Cook County, for all it's corruption, does not assess a personal property tax as is the custom here in Missouri. They also test the emissions on my car free every two years. In spite of those little tax quirks, it's about 20% cheaper to live here than it was up north. The people and the service is great, but I have to say the quality of my tiny home near Chicago was greater in magnitude. Bottom line is you get what you pay for.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 14 Aug 2018, 10:47
hi! i'm in a bit of a hurry, so can't read the whole thread, but i'll take a look to see how much that stuff costs here.
just need to put a note somewhere...
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 14 Aug 2018, 11:26
It was suggested that I buy it from Canada. From what I hear the drugs they sell up north may or may not actually be manufactured in India where the quality isn't so great. We'll see how it goes. The application for assistance is still pending.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 14 Aug 2018, 12:12
well, BH, this was a goose chase! normally i just type in whatever and 4 billion sites want to sell it to me. here i got this:
which actually does not tell me what quantity i'm getting for x # of product. i posted the link as you maybe can ferret it out?
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 14 Aug 2018, 12:33
Every place my frau tried to order insulin, she was told they are not allowed to ship to the USofA.
The irony behind that is, many of the discount pharmacies here in the states buy from them, and that is how she got their name and order number.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 14 Aug 2018, 13:22
Size Price Stock Quantity
10mM/1mL In DMSO USD 300--In stock
5mg USD 170--In stock
10mg USD 270--In stock
50mg USD 870--In stock
Bulk Size Bulk Discount
It's right there in the middle of the page. The dosage I'm taking is 20Mg, so I dunno what they are selling.
They also provide a phone number for their Houston office. Presumably they can't ship direct as Gary points out.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 15 Aug 2018, 10:51
Had an aunt who lived in International Falls, Minnesota. They would drive across the border once a month to get their scripts filled, and do some other shopping.
She would send several items to my mom for about 1/3 the price of the same stuff here.
I think she was also able to get some of my mom and dad's scripts filled as well.
She passed away long before my dad did, and for a few years they would ship his medicines.
Then suddenly they said they could not do that anymore, not even with scripts from the doctor.
I used DMSO cream years ago, didn't know they had pills, considering what it is usually used for.
Never needed a script for it though, and don't laugh, usually got it from a vet, he was cheaper, hi hi.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 15 Aug 2018, 13:30
Getting drugs without the need for a doctors order is an advantage. I'd suppose the reduced price is because the doctor is not getting his cut from the sale in that case. I'm probably too paranoid or well indoctrinated to get my drugs on the black (or grey) market. Desperation could change my attitude, but I'm not there yet.
I was surprised to learn that the drugs from a veterinarian must comply with the same regulations as those used on humans. In fact the same pharmacy can be used for both. Usually the vet will have a supply, but we got a few things for our dogs over the years from Walgreens. A fully qualified script was necessary in all cases.
Re: Free Drugs
Posted: 16 Aug 2018, 11:54
We get most of our pet medications through PetsMed, and yes they must have a script from our vet to fill our orders.
Our vet has been good about writing scripts for the larger size doses to save us a few bucks.
Once we learned they charged the same price for a product, eg. for small, medium, and large dogs.
He writes the script for large dogs, and tells us how much to use for each dog.
Like the flea and tick oil, comes in 3, 6, and 9 ml tubes. All for the same price.
So by buying only the 9ml tubes, and using 1/3 of it on each dog, measured with a separate syringe of course, it's like buy one get two free, hi hi.
Same with the heartworm preventative I think. The frau handles all the dog treatments.