Yesterday, after suffering with the flu and its aftermath as long as could without professional intervention, my husband drove me to the doctor. At this point, I was reduced to a blathering mess: congestion was severe, I was not getting better, and I couldn’t breathe without coughing so hard that I felt my toes nearly coming out my windpipe. And, in the hour and a half that I waiting there, first examined and then X-Rayed, then waiting for a consensus, I felt myself despairing of my state.
“Now I know,” I was thinking, “Why people give up and die.”
But not so fast. My doctor, James H. Arkins, M.D., was there with his prescription pad and good news.
“You don’t have pneumonia,” he said. “You have bronchitis.” Of course, he demanded to know what archaic methods of self-treatment I had been using before resorting to his care. I confessed to self-medicating with lemon tea, ginger, and cough drops, plus Mucinex and Excedrin. He told me to continue with the Mucinex, remember to use my inhaler, and be sure to drink as much water as I could. Then he gave me two prescriptions – one, an antibiotic, and another for methylprednisone – a dose pak- to stop the horrible symptoms. The bad problem with all this upper respiratory mess is, it tends to double over on itself until the symptoms are what kill you, not the underlying disorder.
So, off to Wal-Mart to get them filled. We left the scripts at the pharmacy and Larry got me home, and later went back to get them. When he walked back in the house, he had a strange look on his face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I thought you said these were antibiotics,” he said.
“They are, or at least, one of them is,” I said.
“Well, one was $4 and the other one was $170.”
You’re kidding me, I thought. But no, a look at the receipt proved it. Seven pills, one a day, and nearly $25 for each one. The medication? Levaquin, 750. It’s a powerful antibiotic that is perfect for what I have, but will also work for a few other things. A reading of the fine print showed it is considered very effective against anthrax. And me? Today I’m much better, even though this morning I had to go back to bed for four hours and I’ve been coughing up green stuff (I know, it is gross) all day.
I’m sure Dr. Arkins didn’t know that the bill would be this bad. He doesn’t know how horrible our medical insurance has become in the last few years where I work. Our prescription drug benefit has become eroded the most, with a formulary that is practically worthless for anything other than rudimentary generics. And Wal-Mart sells those for $4 a pop, anyway. What galls me is, they will probably now be charging us for our medical premiums, meaning a benefit that used to be adequate will soon be ridiculously inadequate and overpriced.
But hey, at the moment I’m fortified. Bring on the Anthrax – I’m ready.
Postscript: I found the website for the high priced drug, with a $15 coupon toward purchase. It’s too late for me now, but if anyone else is using this drug, please use the coupon. I’m including it here:Levaquin coupon link