Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Priorities

Patients with Medicare Part D sure don't have good memories. No, they certainly don't remember a long, long time ago, all the way back in 2005, when there was NO DRUG COVERAGE for Medicare patients, and they had to pay out of pocket for everything. I remember little old ladies meticulously writing out their checks for their monthly meds in the $700 to $800 range. Now, these patients have just gotten spoiled. Spoiled, I tell ya!

I had a patient call and ask for the total on her medications. Everything was covered by Part D, except for her Vitamin D 50,000IU. Eight capsules, for a two-month supply, was $15.49. I explained that it wasn't covered under Part D law because it is a vitamin, but that if she is deficient, it was important to her health. Her response? "I ain't paying for THAT! My insurance pays for my meds! If they ain't payin' then I ain't either."

This is awesome. This is where I get to do my job! "Ma'am, did your doctor explain why she prescribed this for you?"

"Yeah, she said my Vitamin D was low."

"Did she explain why it was important for you to get your Vitamin D up?"

"Well, no..."

So I go into the explanation of what Vitamin D does, how it's important for bone health, keeping the immune system healthy, and decreasing risk for some cancers. I tell the patient, "If your lab tests show that your levels are low, I think $15.49 for two months worth of medication would be a good investment for your health."

"Let me think about it..."

When she picked up her prescriptions, she told me, "I thought about what you said...and I'm going to just pay for the Vitamin D."

"I think you have made a good decision. Have a nice day!"

Now I'm not going to pretend that I know what it's like to worry about 16 bucks. I don't. I have been very blessed in that regard. My patients often have to struggle with how to pay for their meds and the light bill. I don't know what my patient had to forgo in order to buy that Vitamin D, but I'm glad I could encourage her to make her health a priority.

5 comments:

  1. Yes, they seem completely taken aback when something's not covered and all of a sudden it becomes less of a priority. I also like it when they ask me to call the doctor to get something that IS covered, especially when the item only costs a few bucks. It seems to be a principle to them, or something.

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  2. I'm with you on the spoiled thing! I have a post about Medicare that I'm ranting about similar issues. I really want to ask if these patients may need an Alzheimer evaluation because they can't remember 5 years ago. The ones that really get me are the ones that are old enough that they already had Medicare coverage in 2005. The newly enrolled "members" (victims) I can almost understand.

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  3. I saw your comment to someone on the redheaded pharmacists blog. Here's the topic that Craig was referring to: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=777751

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  4. I HAVE insurance that I pay for and there isn't anything free. Nice.

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  5. Consumers now are completely clueless as to how much things actually cost.

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