In yesterday's post, I wrote about the way the Christian community has responded to our new healthcare legislation. This post is not about that. I'm writing this post as a pharmacist, and as a pharmacist I think our healthcare system had to change. I'm not sure what the new law will bring. I can say that it will bring somethings that are good, and somethings that may not be so good. I'm optimistically waiting to see what happens.
I was very skeptical when the Medicare Part D prescription drug plans for seniors when into effect. I mean, our government is not known for doing things quickly and cost effectively. However, I knew our senior citizens needed some help paying for their medications. More times that I'd like to remember, I saw a little lady make the decision over whether she was going to her medicine or if she was going pay for groceries, or the electric bill. While it wasn't (and still isn't) perfect, Medicare Part D changed that. Senior citizen had options, and the relief in their faces was evident.
There are other members of our society that need options. When I worked in retail pharmacy I saw people go to desperate measures to pay for their medication. I saw people go take out pay-day loans to pay for their prescriptions. I'm pretty sure I had a customer who was selling herself on the streets to get the money for her medication. I had another customer who was selling some of his Viagra on the street, just so he could afford to have one for himself. Welcome to my life as a pharmacist in north Baton Rouge. Pay-day loans, prostitution, selling prescription drugs on the black market. Not an easy thing to watch.
"What about Medicaid? Doesn't that pay for medication for the poor?", you ask.
Yes, it does pay for medication for the poorest of the poor. However, there are lots of families living off $20000 to $40000 a year that either can't get insurance through their employer because it is not offered or it is too expensive. What do they do? They pray they never get sick is what they do. They ignore their symptoms when they do get sick, and then they are so sick they have to be admitted to a hospital for treatment - then they have bill that drives them to bankruptcy. They go to the pharmacist because they have a staph infection on their leg that has gotten really bad and ask the pharmacist for some over-the-counter medication to treat it with. And when the pharmacist tells them that they need to go to the nearest ER right away or else they are going to lose their leg because the infection is that bad, they sigh in dismay and walk out the door looking for another answer because they just can't afford an ER visit.
Where is the body of Christ to help these people? Was the task too big for the church? Did the church choose to look the other way? I don't know. I know there are Christian organizations about there, trying to help, but their resources are limited.
So, now the government has stepped in. Not what I was hoping for, but it is done. And I pray that God will use it for His glory.