I went to Walgreens yesterday to pick up some prescription refills that I had called in. I drove up to the window and gave my name and the guy said, “It looks like there are ten of them.” He rang them all up and I held my breath and he said, “That will be $36.20.”
Y’all, when I got home I looked at where the info sheet for each prescription says, “Your insurance saved you . . . ” and I got out my calculator and do you know how much those ten prescriptions would have cost me last year? $590.30.
That’s a WIN for Obamacare, folks. Those were maintenance prescriptions (and there are six more that didn’t need filling) for two members of our family who were uninsured this time last year. One of them had in fact been declared uninsurable. We got medicine through mail order programs; we filled out numerous Patient Assistance Forms and took them to doctor’s offices to get help from the drug manufacturers; sometimes we just went without the medicines that I (as the family health expert) decided were non-essential.
I’m used to getting soul-crushing news from the Walgreens clerk, but now our most expensive prescription is about $70. (That’s the one we used to go without.) More usually, I now pay five or ten dollars.
John has now had his first doctor’s appointment and a visit with the nutritionist. If you’ll recall, he was diagnosed with diabetes a couple of years back. As a self-paying patient, he didn’t get much attention from his doctor when this happened. He was told of this enormously life-changing diagnosis over the phone, and they called in a prescription for him. He wasn’t offered any education or told to change his diet. And although I was pretty sure he needed to do something different, I didn’t know enough about it to help him. (Nor did any recommendations I attempted to make carry the same authority as a doctor’s orders would have.) So he continued to eat the same way as before–which was pretty much a “Hey, let’s get diabetes!” kind of diet. And after some improvement due to the medication, he started getting worse again.
But our new doctor’s office is all about prevention and treating underlying causes, not just slapping medicine on an illness like a band-aid. “Food will be your medicine,” the nutritionist told him. And so John finally committed to going on the low-carb regime I’ve been following for the last couple of months. It’s been very hard for him for a variety of reasons, but he’s been doing it for almost two weeks and last time he weighed he was already down 12 pounds! (And he feels better, too.) That’s giving him the motivation to keep going.
I convinced Jake that even though he is not sick he should get a check up (it’s free, after all!) and become established as a patient in advance of future need. So he had his first visit with our new doctor yesterday. When his TennCare was about to expire, just a little over a year ago, I took him for a last minute check up. What he really wanted was a prescription for an asthma inhaler, something he needs infrequently, but does need when he needs it! The TennCare doctor could not prescribe this without giving him some kind of test which was not available at her office and had to be scheduled at the hospital. By the time it was approved and then scheduled, his TennCare had expired. I am happy to say that his new doctor called in an inhaler prescription for him that was ready by yesterday afternoon.
There shouldn’t be a set of assumptions about people who are on TennCare which influences the care they receive. There shouldn’t be different levels of care for people who have insurance and those who don’t. But that was our reality, and Obamacare has changed that for our family.
For more on our journey from being uninsured to becoming healthy, and on my views on Obamacare in general, see the links below.