Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Cost of a Chronic Illness—We Were Born with this Bill

The clerk at the pharmacy looks down apologetically.  “Hmm, looks like it’ll be (some egregious amount of dollars).  Is that okay?”

“Sure,” I say and swipe my credit card, thinking about how the three-month supply of medication just took away my disposable income for the current month and possibly beyond.

This scenario used to happen consistently when I went to pick up insulin and/or the other things involved with diabetes MDI (multiple daily injections) like test strips, pen needles, lancets, etc..  Despite the ridiculousness of the question posed I usually wasn’t irritated by it, instead seeing it as a sort of reassurance that it wasn’t normal to be paying this much at the pharmacy and to feel it as a considerable cost in my budget. 

My reflex every time, though I suppressed it, was to say, “No, it’s actually not okay.  But I don’t see much of a choice.”

Exciting things have been happening within the diabetes community lately relating to advocacy for insulin affordability.  At the same time, prices have been going up, and the political climate regarding access to care in the U.S. is by the best measures tumultuous. 

What I will say in the interest of brevity is this: every time I pay this bill, even the times when I truly couldn’t afford it and didn’t get to my car before I started crying, I felt lucky that I was still able to get the medication I needed to stay alive.  I know there are people around the world who can’t, knowing we all deserve to. 

“Life is a pre-existing condition.  Why won’t you cover it?”

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