So today I took Alex for a checkup. Her outrageously expensive asthma medication runs out next week and we needed a doctor's order to renew the prescription. There's a new general practitioner in the small town nearby, and we've been looking for a GP closer to home, so I took Alex there today, figuring we'd give the guy a try.
He was wonderful. At nine, Alex is at the age where she's a bit more body conscious, and he put her at ease during the examination by talking to her about her hobbies. He pronounced her healthy afterwards and then he and I began discussing her history of asthma.
The doctor decided, based on Alex's records, that renewing the prescription was warranted. As he jotted down the order in his doctor's scrawl, I commented on how expensive the Advair was, and how I felt fortunate to be able to scrape together the $150 a month it took to purchase the medicine. I told him I'd gone on the GlaxoSmithKline website and found that Advair wasn't one of the medications listed in the free-or-reduced-cost drug programs the company offers to the uninsured.
The doctor rolled his eyes and said that was because drug companies were greedy.
Excuse me? Did I hear right? A doctor criticizing drug companies? Of course, I asked him to elaborate and he told me that the reason Advair wasn't offered through the programs is because there' s no competing generic. With no compeitition, GlaxoSmithKline can charge whatever they bloody well please.
I asked him what uninsured people who couldn't afford the medicine did. He shook his head sadly and said they either took half the prescribed dose or risked going without. I told him I hoped I'd never have to make that choice, but as a freelancer I know how work can be there one day and not the next.
"Hold on a sec," he said, and left the room. A few minutes later he came back with four samples of Advair - a four month supply. I was stunned.
"In case you run out of work," he said. "You seem like a really caring mother. I'd hate to see you have to make that kind of choice."
I almost wanted to cry, but managed a smile and a 'thank-you' instead. I paid my $93 bill and walked out with my $300 worth of medicine for my little girl. My faith in the medical profession has been restored, and we have a new family doctor.
My concerns prior to the visit weren't completely unfounded. My editing work has dried up, I've finished my lucrative summer screenplay project - and used the money to renovate my house and purchase a much needed laptop and professional grade camera. Not a whole lot of money is left over. And not a whole lot of work was on the horizon.
Then within an hour - via cellphone - I'd gotten two great assignments and learned a payment I'd been hoping would arrive had done just that.
Life is funny. Just when you think you need to worry - a futile thing to do - something happens and you find some little glimmer of hope. And hope, today, was just what the doctor ordered.
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