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24 December 2013 @ 08:24 am
PSA for Americans  
Just watching PBS Newshour, as I like to do when I have a chance, and they had a story on pricing practices of chain pharmacies. They compared a number of cancer, cholesterol and mental health drugs from a number of outlets.

At Costco, the woman who the story was based on found her generic cancer medication for $11 for 30 days. At Target it was $450 for the same script. Yep, $11 v $450. No typos. To be fair to Target, they did offer to price match when told of the lower figure.

According to PBS, many people do not shop around on prescriptions. It appears it would be very much worth the time to do so. For the drugs looked at, price differences ranged from around 10 times to the 40+ above. I thoroughly recommend the story, and apparently a website called Good Rx does a good job of comparing prices on major generics, too.

If you'll excuse me, I'll be over here giving a big juicy snog to the public health systems I have enjoyed throughout my life. I recognise the fact that I am very lucky!
valkyrie17valkyrie17 on December 24th, 2013 06:35 am (UTC)

Makes me very grateful that I live in Canada.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 24th, 2013 06:46 am (UTC)
Seriously! The expense, the complexity and the sheer unfairness of the system to the consumer just staggers me. Americans have to do so much more work than the rest of us, it's boggling.

I've been reading people's posts this year of the differences between their old coverage and their new under the Affordable Health Care Act and the fact that a fundamentally pretty meh system has made such an incredible positive difference to every single person who has posted about it on my flist just makes me want to both hug them and cry.

But, since hugging and crying are both out, info spreading it is! I have to say that I finished watching that story and was sitting there saying "what the hell!!??' for a good few minutes.
germankittygermankitty on December 24th, 2013 07:01 am (UTC)
What really boggles my mind is the general opposition to "Obamacare" in the US. I mean, independence and whatnot are all fair and well, but can we please have some common sense to go with it? You can't have your cake and eat it, too, peeps -- either you accept some government regulation if it benefits all, or continue to go bankrupt over medical treatments. It's your free, independent choice.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 24th, 2013 07:41 am (UTC)
From what I've read, the opposition comes mostly from the loud cries of vested interests rather than from the general populace. This makes a lot of sense to me: if you're a company that can convince people they should be paying $439 more than they need to for a script, you're going to try to hold onto that money while you legally can!

Most of the individuals I have heard speaking out against it are obvious ideologues whose entire rationale is based on the hatred of government involvement. Which again, makes a lot of sense: it's the only coherent reason to oppose it, since public healthcare is absolutely proven to cost less and provide better outcomes for the vast majority of people.

What is frustrating is that there is such a large number of them in the Congress and Senate, working against the interests of their constituents, and that the media gives them such a strong voice in the name of 'balance' even when they are spouting utter and obvious crap.

Sadly, common sense and government are two concepts that have been diverging over the last 40 years :-(
germankittygermankitty on December 24th, 2013 08:25 am (UTC)
"Sadly, common sense and government are two concepts that have been diverging over the last 40 years :-("

Yeah, and not just in the US. *sigh*

You're right of course; the irony is that a lot of people let themselves be misguided by those ideologues even though the new healthcare system would benefit them enormously.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 24th, 2013 01:40 pm (UTC)
It's so depressing! But then, in Australiia we've just had a government elected on the basis that they promised to give a portion of the populace a bit more in their pocket – completely ignoring that they would be screwing over the long-term health of the economy to do so :-(
germankittygermankitty on December 24th, 2013 02:03 pm (UTC)
*snerk* People will elect whoever makes them the rosiest promises. We had exactly that happen after reunification -- the Conservatives under Chancellor Kohl told everyone bringing the former GDR up to West German standards would be a walk in the park and cost peanuts. The opposition said that it wasn't going to be quite that easy, and probably cost a lot more than could be guessed at at the time. They lost by a landslide on both sides.

Now it's 25 years later, the eastern states still haven't caught up all the way, and guess what? We're also still paying a "solidarity contribution" to make those adjustments, and it looks increasingly as if that contribution is going to be permanent. But it's NOT an increase in taxes, oh no ... the Social Democrats said they'd have to raise taxes, but of course the Conservatives used more flowery language and hoodwinked everybody ... *headdesk*
Josephine Stonejosephinestone on December 24th, 2013 03:16 pm (UTC)

My FIL complains about Obamacare all the time, when it would probably save him a lot of money each month. Right now, I pay almost as much in health care as I do on my rent. And we are lucky to not have any preexisting conditions, and we are non-smokers.
Geneva2010geneva2010 on December 26th, 2013 03:49 am (UTC)
What you say is true, but the depressing thing is that the opposition party won't like anything that President Obama proposes just because he had the temerity to be elected president. They can't get over it. Nothing he can do will ever be right. The same attitude prevailed during the Clinton years, but not nearly as bad or as virulent.

The ACA is such a huge improvement over what we have, but a lot of people don't realize how bad we have it, and how much of a drag on the economy our health care system is. We waste so much productivity of people with inadequate health care, and also on the horrible immigration policies. If those two things were truly fixed, we would see a big boom.
ashindkashindk on December 24th, 2013 09:52 am (UTC)
Well said!
germankittygermankitty on December 24th, 2013 06:56 am (UTC)
Good grief.

Thankfully, over here we have fixed prices for meds, no matter which pharmacy you go to in the whole country. The only difference in cost is due to brand/manufacturer, and as doctors are directed to prescribe generic meds whenever possible, that hardly matters. Patients only pay a nominal fee for prescription drugs, anyway; the rest is carried by mandatory (if you're working) health insurance.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 24th, 2013 07:46 am (UTC)
Mostly the same here. And our healthcare costs are a fraction of those in the US, yet people in our countries live longer and in generally better health.

It's actually a really good example of how the 'free market' DOESN'T work in healthcare: costs are artificially increased across most aspects of American health for a multitude of reasons including the fact that individuals aren't well positioned to shop around in a way that effectively compares prices. That's why this story caught my eye: I had no idea how bad the situation was with scripts there.

Im very glad to see that there are a number of groups and websites who are trying to help with the issue: people power is something that the US does thousands of times better than it does healthcare!
Josephine Stonejosephinestone on December 24th, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC)
It makes sense that where health care is cheaper people are healthier. We often don't go to the hospital because it is too expensive. My husband hasn't ever gone for a routine check up and I haven't gone since before my son was born.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 24th, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. I find it really distressing that Americans are put into that situation. It should never be a choice between health and financial wellbeing.

The thing that makes me such a massive fan of public healthcare is that it keeps the prices down for private healthcare, too. I often go private because my nearest doctor only does private and physio (my main health service) is slow to access through public, but even then, I get a rebate for the doctor's appointments, and the costs are minimal to start with: $65 for a full consultation and flu jab, for example. My American friends pay a lot more for a similar service, because the 'free market' for healthcare is so distorted by the interests of major companies.
ashindkashindk on December 24th, 2013 09:51 am (UTC)
*clings to public health system*
I had a cancer scare this summer. It ended up being nothing, but I can't even imagine the stress it would cause if money was something I had to worry about in that situation!

Edited at 2013-12-24 10:06 am (UTC)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 24th, 2013 01:46 pm (UTC)
YES! It's so tremendously unfair that there are vested interests trying to stop Americans from having security in these sorts of situations. No one should have to chose between their health and their house.
illereynillereyn on December 24th, 2013 11:27 am (UTC)
Yay for Medicare and other similar public health systems!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 24th, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
I KNOW! I It makes me realise how very lucky we are. While I've chosen to pay for private physio over the years, I could have got through every cycling accident of my life without any outlay, whereas the least of them would have set me back thousands in the US. Terrifying.
Loyaulte Me Lie: Doctor Whoshocolate on December 24th, 2013 01:11 pm (UTC)

*ravishes the NHS*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on December 24th, 2013 01:41 pm (UTC)
I confess, I've been using tongue in my snogging.
astardanced77astardanced77 on December 24th, 2013 01:49 pm (UTC)
I remember reading an article during the Obamacare debate by a woman who had survived childhood cancer. Her parents had gone bankrupt twice paying for her treatment. She was now an adult and completely cancer free. However, because of her history, her monthly health insurance premium was more than her income. She ended up moving to England and becoming a British citizen because of the NHS.

I find the healthcare debate mind-boggling because I work in health statistics. Every time I look at the OECD comparison rates I am a little more grateful I live in Australia.
Josephine Stonejosephinestone on December 24th, 2013 03:31 pm (UTC)
I would love to move, my husband and I talk about it a lot. But we don't really have the money for that type of move, and our family would kill us. Plus, most of the places we'd want to go wouldn't allow our daughter to move there because she is Autistic.
ozdobeozdobe on December 24th, 2013 03:58 pm (UTC)
Yes I even use Costco online (because that can be even cheaper) for medications for extended conditions for my dogs. I was able to get human grade anti epilepsy drugs for my dog at a totally affordable cost of $127 every 6 months instead of $200 per month just by using Costco. Gotta love some aspects of the big box stores. Gotta hate Walmart though just for existing.

Lucky for me I have good healthcare coverage thru work so when my husband had cancer most of last year, the actual total out-of-pocket cost to me was less than his medical costs for the previous year!

Edited at 2013-12-24 04:04 pm (UTC)
boodiedharawal on December 25th, 2013 04:10 am (UTC)
Having just spent a month in hospital, and now on permanent it seems medications, I for one am glad of the health care system in Australia, my meds cost me $7 per script every 45 days or so.

mrsquizzicalmrsquizzical on December 26th, 2013 01:12 am (UTC)