I think the people who set the prices for my medications are the same folks who decided Michael Vick should be paid $100 million for playing football.
I took a look at the actual price of my antidepressants and mood stabilizer yesterday and about passed out. Over $1,000 for a 3-month supply of my medications. You’re probably wondering how that amount of money could have slipped by a coupon-clipping, single-mom with a kid in college. Well, I am one of the most blessed people on the planet. I have medical insurance. Really good medical insurance with prescription drug coverage (God bless my employer).
I have this amazing prescription program for maintenance drugs – everything from birth control pills to Lipitor and, yes, antidepressants, anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers. I get a 3-month supply of generics for $30 and brand-name drugs for $60. Doesn’t matter which drug. They are all $30 for 3-months of generics and $60 for 3 months of brand name.
I know. It is an obscenely good deal and I am blessed – truly blessed – to have this benefit. I will be the first to tell you that until the other day, when I looked at the actual receipt, I took this benefit for granted. I’ve been getting this deal for so long that I just open the package when it comes in the mail and toss the paperwork in a folder in my files.
I am embarrassed – actually ashamed – to admit that I have been oblivious to the horrible financial burden that plagues the uninsured with mental illness. Actually, I feel this for anyone with any illness who cannot afford their medication. But I am especially sympathetic towards people with mental illness who go without medication because they cannot afford it. I like to think mental illness is special – not just because I am mentally ill – but because of the extraordinary impact untreated mental illness has on everyone.
You may not think that mental illness impacts you. Depression, bipolar, alcoholism, addiction, schizophrenia and a smorgasbord of other mental illnesses have not personally touched you, your family or friends. Wrong. If you pay taxes – mental illness affects you.
As a journalist, I spent 12 years covering criminal and civil courts. I am here to tell you, there are a lot of untreated mental illness – especially dual-diagnosed addicts and alcoholics – in court. Then there is the loss of productively and cost of insurance (not to mention suffering) caused by depression – the number one workplace disability. I could go on and on…
It is absurd that the people who are most able to pay for their medications – people like me enrolled in generous employer-provided insurance programs – get the best deal on their prescription drugs.
Will someone please explain the logic behind requiring an unemployed coupon-clipping, single mom with a kid in college to spend more then $1,000 for a three month supply of her medications while the employed, coupon-clipping single mom with a kid in college – me – only pays a couple hundred dollars for the same drugs?
I know it’s because my gargantuan insurance company is so powerful it can provide drug makers with a huge population of customers. Still, it’s not fair. The pharmaceutical industry is among the most profitable legal businesses on the planet. I don’t know what I can do about it but I want to do something.
Anyone have any suggestions?