We have to have to have a colonoscopy after the age of 50, and, if you are healthy, a total of three of these tests in your lifetime. So, I am a little late with the last one. Yes, care givers have to be sure they are in good shape and should get all the requisite tests! I know!
I made an appointment with a lab. Names will not be used. Given the nature of the procedure I don’t want the practitioner to have bad feelings about me.
Made the appointment and was told a prescription would be sent to my pharmacy. And, I was told if it turned out the prescription was expensive, I was to call the lab back and they would work something out. I thought that was a bit odd, as I didn’t remember having any prescription prep meds for the other two procedures. But, I am a caregiver so other things took up my brain space.
When the prescription was ready I went to the pharmacy to pick it up. I was astonished.
Pharmacist: That will be 94-dollars.
Me: Say whaaaa?!!! What about my insurance?
Phar: It’s not covered.
Me: Okay, well then I decline the offer.
Next business day or two I called the lab. I ask why I have to have a 94-dollar prep med.
Lab Lady: Our doctor prefers this brand of prep med.
Me: Then your doctor can pay the $94, because I didn’t pay $94 for the previous 2 prep meds and I sure am not going to pay it now.
Lab Lady: Well, we sometimes have samples. So I could check to see if we have samples and get back to you.
Me: I don’t want a sample. That’s not the point. If you give me the sample, then the next guy who really, really, really can’t afford $94 will not be able to get a sample. Why is it that for 99-cents each I can buy a couple of bottles of magnesium sulfate, like I did for the past 2 procedures. Where did this 94 dollar stuff come from?
Lab Lady: Oh, well that has been taken off the market because people with eating disorders were abusing it.
Me: So, instead of putting the magnesium sulfate behind the counter and making people sign for it like you do for Claritin , or by making magnesium sulfate an inexpensive prescription, it just gets taken off the market. And then. the crafty pharmaceutical companies come up with a much “better” product for $94. right?
Lab Lady: well, we do have a coupon for the $94 med. It came with your prep procedure packet.
Me: How much is the coupon worth?
Lab Lady: I don’t know.
Me: It came from your office. Who does know its worth?
Lab lady: You’ have to call the company.
I called the Rx company and believe it or not, no one at the company that produces the coupon knew how much the coupon was worth. A call to the pharmacy resulted in finding out that if I used the coupon, the price went up to $109. Neither the pharmacist or anyone else on earth can figure out why.
Out of the blue a third Lab Lady called me. I went through the whole story.
Lab Lady #3: I am so sorry about your trouble. There is another prep med.
Me: You are the 3rd person I have talked to from the lab, and no one had any suggestions for a less expensive alternative.
Lab Lady #3: Oh my. I don’t know why they wouldn’t have told you.
She proceeded to tell me the alternative prep involved an over-the-counter laxative, and a giant bottle of stuff you drink: one 8 ounce glass at a time until you have consumed a liter. More detailed instructions to be sent by mail. I picked up the prescription bottle of stuff and the laxative. (which, by the way, she suggested the name brand when the store brand was less than half the cost).
Total bill: $4.19
The first 2 Lab Ladies called later in the day. I don’t know why, but I told them their colleague just saved me $89.81. They didn’t really care, and didn’t even pretend to be surprised that magnesium sulfate has NOT been taken off the market. It’s still .99 at a couple of grocery stores. I checked.
What can I say? Ask questions, be your own advocate. If you have to have a colonoscopy or any test in the near future, shop around. AND do not doubt for one moment that pharmaceutical companies control health care delivery.