My Meds are Covered. Wait, WHAT?

Walgreens prescription refill screen displaying the cost (without insurance) of Seroquel, one of the six pills I take on a daily basis.
May 26, 2016
I abashedly handed the pharmacy tech my paper Medi-Cal/CalOptima membership card and waited for the results. The Walgreens website had said, "$2,476.59" for 90 Seroquel pills (I take 2 a day). Yea. Like, I could really afford that. Though I knew this was only the price pre-insurance...And still, I waited nervously as she typed some figures into the computer.
My fate was in that little ole hard drive, sitting there, humming on and on. Next to me, I saw a guy, had to be about in his mid-twenties, maybe even VERY early twenties whip out his nicely packaged plastic Blue Anthem ID card. Oops. Was I not supposed to steal a glance at his info? My bad. I watched as the other pharmacy tech clipped the young man's card to his clipboard. I looked down at the paper Medi-Cal card the pharmacy tech had placed back down in front of me and felt a bit ashamed and outdid. How much would his meds cost him? I thought, glancing back at the young man with his fancy schmancy trendy trilby hat, which he probably thought was called a fedora, which up until a few months ago, I did, too. (Sorry. That was judgment I passed there. Forgive me.)
And then, the pharmacy tech who was helping me turned towards me and says, "Your insurance does not cover the Lithium." My heart drops. I went an entire week without Lithium because I couldn't afford the past insurance cost (I switched insurance carriers within a month..long story, short amount of time to explain myself), how could I possibly afford the UN-insured price? And then I thought about all you lucky bastards who don't have to worry about this issue and I felt bitter and sad all at the same time. Sorry. Don't mean to insult.
I can't imagine what it must be like for people with no insurance at all. How do you pay for your arthritis medication? Your ADHD medication that keeps you in your seat and your mind off of everything swirling around you. Your Seroquel that keeps you from experiencing monstrous withdrawal symptoms if you miss ONE dose? Or for my dad who took medication that prevented his cancer of the blood from spreading, so when the hospital (I won't name which one), gave him the wrong dosage, the medication no longer treated him and a tumor attached itself to his spleen, grew to be between 8 and 10 pounds, and left him bleeding to death because the foolish doctor operated on a man who was too damn weak to be operated on. Four damn surgeries, opening and closing him back up again, in THREE days?? I'm sure even a healthy, able man could barely manage that!! F U. Wow. Sorry. I didn't mean to get explicit. I don't mean to get started. But if you knew the three-step scenario that led to my dad's death, you'd feel as terrorized. Three times, it could have been prevented. But due to one hospital's negligence, one doctor's arrogance, and that same doctor's self-righteousness, my dad is no longer here. Thank you very much.
Medicine is so vital to our existence! Holistic, chemical, WHATEVER! And to deny a people access to certain medications because they can't afford it due to their HMO insurance (if they even have that), is a cruel and usual form of punishment, and yes, I know I am not introducing any new information here. I am merely ranting and venting and yelling. We need our drugs. We need to be healthy. I know you might think I am perfectly healthy and how dare I compare myself to someone with physical medical problems. Why don't I go get some placebos and the book "The Five Languages of Love" or some other therapeutic written word phenomenon, and maybe my angst will go away, and I'm not here to convince you I need my crazy pills simply because I think I need them to make me not crazy. Call them crazy pills, placebos, sugar in a yellow casing, I don't care.
More than 2 grand for ONE bottle of pills? And I know there are many other medications that even surpass that. We are perishing away because we cannot afford to stay alive. And we share prescriptions and gracious medical professionals diagnose away technicalities so the underprivileged and/or uninsured can get some form of treatment, or at least alleviation for a week or so. 

And this is why I wanted to pursue a degree in Health Administration but cowardly withdrew because I didn't think my mental health could handle the stress or my brain dissect health policies and regulations, yes, it was foolish of me. If I could stand up for those who cannot afford to stay alive, I would. Perhaps with that one sentence, in a way, I did. Healthcare. Human care. We want it so bad. And you insist on charging us for it.
Wow. Major sidetrack there. Back to my story. The pharmacy tech turns to me and tells me the insurance does not cover my Lithium. However, (and this is a miracle), my Seroquel, the medication that cost $2,476.59 with no insurance, was at no cost. What? How did that happen, and what determines the costs for these pills?? She asked me if I wanted the Seroquel at least. I tried hard to not let my jaw reach the tiled floor when it dropped from my astonished face. "Yes!!" I shouted. In my head, that is. I grinned and in a polished manner said, "Yes." I asked. "How much is the Lithium with no insurance?"
"$34.99," she says.
In my head, "Wait. What?" I could totally afford that. Even though it was twice the price it used to be. Hurriedly, I answered, "Yes, please, I need it!"
(What a druggie, right?)
I felt like I got away with murder, swiping my thousandth timed swiped debit card, grabbing my bag, and scurrying away before anyone could discover a glitch in the system.
Apparently, I might even be able to get my Lithium for no charge as well. They are going to process my insurance and submit it through. Wow. Miraculous.
Hmm...I really do wonder though how much money that Blue Anthem ID card saved that young man. But as I rushed past him, my direly needed medication in tow, I really didn't give a crap. With the money, I saved, I'll buy my own fedora. I mean, trilby.
Was this post one bundle of contradiction or what? All I can say is, the world is a bundle of contradiction.
And I will never forget those numerous times I stood in line behind others, waiting to pick up their medication at the pharmacy, listening, unintentionally, to the poor old man or woman arguing with the pharmacist, "But, I don't have $339!! I'm on a fixed income." And the pharmacist saying, "I'm sorry, sir (or ma'am), but it says your insurance does not cover it". And the discussion ends there.
And the old man or woman shuffles away from the REGISTER (cha-ching), sighing or crying or simply in pain because the medicine that would treat him or her he or she cannot afford.
Your insurance does not cover it. So many millions, unsheltered and unprotected. They may die because of it.
And I do not know the meaning of being able to fall asleep and not worrying about 7 pills to take before I can even do so. Man, it'd be so nice to be able to do that! To simply crash on the pillow and that's it!
You'll never hear me say I'm not bitter. Because I so, so am. But...at the same time, I'm happy for the breaks that do come my way. I thank God for those breaks...but with eyebrows raised. One who has the power to save us all...
"She wants to be saved. I ain't gonna save her."
Still dissecting that song. Give me a day or two.
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