I am not a physician. I am not a healthcare consultant. I am, most likely as you are, a consumer of healthcare services. In that capacity, here is my prescription for your next Rx.
I left the office without checking. Dumb. Very dumb… Don’t make this mistake!
The days of the doctor we know and trust for years are long gone, certainly for most of us. Establishing trust in the doctor-patient relationship is extremely difficult when you’re passed through the “systems” that are part of healthcare in America.
As for the relationship with the physician who mis-wrote my prescriptions, let’s just say, annoyance doesn’t quite cover it.
Not only did the mistakes cost me numerous hours to straighten out, with a nod to a wonderful pharmacy that helped, but had I not insisted on getting everything set back to normal, the records would have been screwed up for the future, and the out-of-pocket cost would have been comparatively exorbitant.
Prescription Costs – Less is More
We all know that costs of prescriptions can vary widely depending on whether or not we have insurance, the type of insurance, not to mention the drug itself. Naturally, there are economies of scale – buying more of something generally costs less.
Because of a snafu in scheduling at the same doctor’s office, I had already shelled out $2/pill for several days when I couldn’t be seen. Those same pills in a routine dosage for a few months? They cost less than 25 cents each.
As for the refills I went to the physician’s facility to pick up (that visit cost me a hefty copay and three hours of my time), both were written incorrectly – one for the dosage, and the other for the frequency. The cost impact of just one – because the Rx was written for one month rather than twelve – was significant.
One month would’ve cost approximately $5 under my insurance, which would be $60 for the year. When the pharmacist resolved the issue a few days later and the script was rewritten properly, one year cost $6 and change.
That’s $6 for the year versus $60. A notable difference, wouldn’t you say?
Ask Your Doctor Questions!
Another example dates back a few years, again over a routine prescription. I was given what I was told I “had to take,” and as there were no side effects, I spent $40/month (my copay with insurance) for approximately five years. That was when my physician mentioned there was an alternative, which came as a surprise to me.
The only difference? I had to take it slightly more often as it was formulated differently. It simply never occurred to him to mention it, and it didn’t occur to me that I had alternatives. My $480/year out-of-pocket prescription expense was soon replaced with a $60/year option that worked just as well.
Think I was furious? As a single mom without a predictable income, do you think I couldn’t have used that $420/year – totaling over $2,000?
Not only was I irritated with him, but I was angry at myself – for not questioning the doctor.
We Are Healthcare Consumers
The next time you’re prescribed something – check your Rx. Make sure it’s been written properly. Don’t be afraid to politely ask questions.
Ask about alternatives – and I don’t just mean one generic, but all the alternatives and their relative prices. And remember – all “generics” are not the same! They can be formulated differently, but not work for certain individuals in the same way.
Doctors are human. They make mistakes. Many are slammed with administrative work, overbooked, and let’s face it – we pass through their offices in the shortest amount of time and frequently, with no doctor-patient relationship whatsoever.
We are none of us in the position of assuming anything with our providers. We are healthcare consumers. It’s up to us to be as informed as possible.
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