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Purple Pill

August 8, 2009

My wallet may as well have had a hole in it this morning. Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., I spent a whopping $680: $521 to pay the second installment of a dental crown that cost more than $1K in total, and $162 for a one month prescription of Nexium. I’ve known about the crown for weeks now, so I was prepared for that, but the prescription took me aback. $162! For 30 teeny purple pills! When the pharmacist reviewed my bill, he actually started to look a little nervous. He umm’d and hmm’d for a few seconds, then said, “Yeah… We’re going to have to talk about this. Your insurance only covered about $30.” He said if the Nexium takes care of my heartburn, I should ask my doctor for an alternative generic brand. Otherwise, I’m going to be handing over about $2000 a year to the fine folks at AstraZeneca. 

Our part-time employers don’t offer health coverage, so we purchase our own private insurance. For basic coverage with a high deductible, we spend about $400 a month. Preventative care (yearly physical, pap smears, etc.) is covered, as are two dental cleanings per year. As I discovered today, prescriptions are somewhat covered. Other office visits are not covered. Neither is dental work like fillings or, obviously, crowns. Theoretically, if something really bad and really expensive happened, something involving hospitals and operations, the insurance company would pay the bulk of it. Theoretically. Do I trust my insurance company to follow through? Not particularly. I’ve had bad experiences in the past (another story for another time). Based on those experiences, I’ve come to support some kind of universal government-sponsored health care option. It’s awful to have to pay today’s sky-high medical costs without having a safety net beneath you. I’m grateful – though perhaps grudgingly so – for the thin net we do have.

Anyway. Tomorrow morning I’ll be taking my first dose of Nexium. Here’s hoping it works better than the ineffective Prilosec I’ve been downing for the past two weeks. Acid reflux sounds like no biggie, but when it’s chronic, it’s persistently uncomfortable (even when I stick to my GERD-friendly diet).

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