Sunday, September 9, 2012

Co-Pays and No-Pays

I guess because it's an election year people are thinking about the 'health care' debate and peripherally paying attention, although in their own typical way --- "hearing about" stuff, and rumors, and watching the cable news channel that they agree with most -- without actually doing any hard reading or research.  I'm no expert either, but from my perch as a pharmacist I detect certain trends.  It hit me the other day when I had a customer grumble about his $59 copay for a 3-month supply of 4 prescriptions. It's my feeling that during the time I've been a retail pharmacist, copays have been trending down. Most of the drugs we dispense are generics -- the big expensive brand-name drug with the big copay is becoming less common. Maybe that's why people's expectations are that everything's eventually going to be 'free.' But of course nothing is 'free.'   I don't have any problem with a reasonable co-payment for prescription medications.  I don't think that the $59 tab was unreasonable at all. The future legislation is called the "Affordable Health Care Act", not the "Free Healthcare Act."   People are flabbergasted at how expensive something like, say, Seroquel is;  well, yeah, it's a drug that alters your brain chemistry and which took years of research, testing and know-how to develop and put into a little tablet that you can swallow and fix your 'mood disorder.'  It might even change someone's life? What's the price on that? And yet people can also take a dirt-cheap drug that keeps their blood pressure under control and prevents them from having a heart attack or stroke.  That's pretty significant.  I don't think people get this.
  It's the same old story -- the cheaper something is, the less value it's perceived to have and therefore all the professional services behind it are cheapened too.

People used to treat a doctor's prescription like gold.  They would fold it and put it in a safe place (their wallet) and bring it to the pharmacy almost immediately. Now they are treated like grocery store coupons-- collect 'em, trade 'em, transfer 'em, and (my favorite), lose 'em.  And what they represent also seems to have declined in value, where $59 is apparently outrageous for those multiple 90-day prescriptions.  I guess I just remember a different era..... or something.....

Now on the flip side, I would like to address my workplace.  If you're going to complain that customers don't treat you as a professional, then for God's sake, ACT  PROFESSIONAL.
1.  Wear some decent clothes.  Wear your identification badge like you're supposed to.
2. Stop cooking your lunch in the pharmacy microwave so the entire place reeks.  It smells like a damn          Burger King in here.
3. Stop EATING, snacking and drinking all day in the pharmacy. IT LOOKS TERRIBLE.
4. If someone talks to you from out at the counter, get out there and talk to them. Don't holler across the   room. Respect people's privacy, even if they are oblivious.

Can you tell what's been bugging me this week?