In 2014, I signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. I was given a subsidy so my monthly premium was within my budget. During that same year, I started to take the drug Pramipexole, a dopamine agonist which fools the brain into thinking its dopamine. My brain does not make enough of this neurotransmitter resulting in my having Parkinson’s. I take 150 MG a day and at the time I paid about $120 for a 90-day supply through my health insurance.
So here comes 2015 and low and behold, I can get health insurance but not the subsidy because I did not make enough money during 2014, in part due to the economy and Parkinson’s disease. With my premium doubling in price, I had no choice but to drop my insurance as I could not afford it.
My drugs were affordable before I ever had health insurance, so I was not too concerned. My Neurologist wrote out a 90-day prescription for all 3 medications.
I go to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription; at the counter the assistant tells me that the drug Pramipexole which was $120 for a 90-day supply with health insurance is now $800! After the shock of disbelief, I collected myself and went home to do some detective work via my trusted friend Google.
I checked Target and a number of other pharmacy’s and came up with different pricing from $800 to the lowest being $200 for my usual three-month supply. The latter was cheaper but still more than I had been paying.
A friend told me to check Costco. Since I did not have anything to lose I looked them up on-line and called to make sure I understood what I was reading… for a ninety-day supply of Pramipexole, the cost is $45 without insurance. Plus, you don’t have to join to use their pharmacy. So you see why I called to confirm the price and, needless to say, I now pick up my prescriptions at Costco.
Now, the reason I bring this up, besides trying to save money for anyone concerned, especially for pharmaceuticals, is the question, “how can there be such a wide range in pricing?” The only answer given is ‘different manufacturers’. That does not seem plausible. The pessimist in me see’s kickbacks and fast money changing hands. Something smells a rat! I should write to my congressman… but we don’t want to go there.
With an illness, especially one where there is not a cure, I will be forever dealing with doctors, drugs and pharmacies. And for a person who’d rather be hiking or reading, this is work. But an awareness of this seeming unfairness in pharmaceuticals is necessary or you will most surely lose your way.