A Trip to the Pharmacy

A post from Kelli–

All the time growing up, I always felt kind of nervous.  Things that were just normal things that would happen would send me into a tailspin.  Here’s an example–Taking my car into the shop to get fixed, even if it was something small or normal would just freak me out.  I would convice myself that something was going to happen while my car was in the shop and I wouldn’t be able to go to the doctor or that I would be scheduled for a shift at work that I would have forgotten about and that I’d get fired.  In all reality, I knew that if I really needed to go to the doctor because it was an emergency, I could call the ambulance and I already knew that I normally checked my work schedule 17 million times, so I wouldn’t miss a shift that I was scheduled, however this anxiety and fear hung over me until my car was back in my possession.  And then I just ended up finding something new to worry about…

When I got laid off from my job before I went back to nursing school, I applied for a large government grant on behalf of the company that I was working for.  We sumbitted it kind of as a hail Mary, and to our surprise, it was approved.  This meant that anyone who was losing their job as a result of the buriness closure would be able to go back to school and retrain with minimal expense.  One stipulation however was that the funds had to be used within a certain time frame.

I started school and everythign was going great!  I was able to go to school without having to constantly worry about bills and how I was going to pay for things like gas to clinicals and such.  The last class in the program that I attended is notorious for being extremely hard.  The first few tests I did okay, but the stress started getting to me combined with my work schedule.  By about the 4th test, I would sit down and look at the first page of the test and if I didn’t know the exact anwer to each question without a doubt, I would end up convincing myself that I was going to fail the test, fail the class, flunk out of nursing school and then have to pay back the thousands of dollars I had received in tuition and other reimbursements to complete the program.  It got so that I would start this whole anxiety ridden process for about a day before I even had to take a test.

Luckily, (I can say that now) my sleep machine broke after about 3 tests.  I had to go in to get a new machine prescription and literally had a breakdown in the doctor’s office.  After some talking and a few prescriptions, I was feeling much better within a few days.

A few months later, I was doing better, but starting to pick back up on a few tendancies.  I had to go back in for a recheck and mentioned this to the doctor and we did a bit of changing with my medications and added a new one in–Buspar.  I stopped by the pharmacy after my appointmentment, and picked it up.  My insurance at the time wasn’t the greatest, but the cost was pretty minimal, so I didn’t really think anything of it.  I took one 5 mg pill twice a day and noticed a great improvement.



Fast forward a few months and I was needing to make some changes once again in order to be able to stop taking some of the other medications I was on.  We increased my dose to 7.5 mg twice a day.  I didn’t think much of it until I went to get my new prescription from the pharmacy.  It was around $30.00 which wasn’t that bad, but my insurance had changed and I figured that it was an increased dose, so just shrugged it off.  This continued for a few month with the price increasing a bit each time, but nothing to terrible.

This past week, I stopped by to pick up my prescription and all of a sudden it was $100.00 and that was after insurance had paid $100.00 on it.  I was floored.  I told them I couldn’t pay that much and picked up my other prescription.  I was flabbergasted to say the least.  I searched aroudn a bit on my phone looking to find a coupon to see if that would work.  I knew that I needed the medication, but just figured that I would have to schedule an appointment with my ARNP to see if there were other options.

Turns out that insurance and the coupon cannot be stacked and the coupon only took off $3.00.  I asked about a generic, but that’s what I already had and was cheaper than the name brand.  I was pretty defeated, but remembered that the 5 mg tabs were significantly cheaper.  I asked if there would be a possibility of getting 5 mg tabs and then cutting them to accommodate for the 2.5 mg portion.  The tech said that she’d look into it and would have to call my provider to verify.

After about an hour wait, it turns out that they weren’t able to fill my prescription for a month, but that when they were, they would be able to do so for $15.00 per month.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!  I was happy and mad all at the same time.  I was happy that I wouldn’t have to schedule an appointment and change meds yet again to accommodate for this, but I was kind of mad that this option wasn’t ever brought up by anyone at the pharmacy.  I’m well aware that they probably aren’t allowed to bring it up, but I’m going to use this as a platform to educate everyone I can–If your medications are costly, ask questions!!!  Try a coupon!!!  Ask about taking a different number of pills for the same dosage!!  Ask about getting a larger dose pill and splitting it yourself!!  When I work at the hospital, we only carry certain dosages of medications, much less than the pharmacy.  People often question why they are receiving a half pill compared to their normal pill at home.  One common one is Metoprolol which is a beta blocker used to control high blood pressure.  We might only carry 50 mg tablets at the hospital, however the pharmacy may carry 25 mg tablets.  When patients are admitted, we just split our 50 mg tablet in half, where as they are able to take a 25 mg pill at home from the pharmacy.

The moral of the story–DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS!!!  Doctors prescribe medications because there is a need for them!  If you aren’t able to afford medications the way that the prescription is written–ASK!  The worst that they can say is no!

17 thoughts on “A Trip to the Pharmacy”

  1. I used to take Buspar. I changed primary care physicians and my new doctor urged me to get off of this medication due to the risk of Tardive Dyskinesia. Wikipedia states “Tardive dyskinesia is a disorder that results in involuntary, repetitive body movements. This may include grimacing, sticking out the tongue or smacking of the lips. Additionally there may be rapid jerking movements or slow writhing movements. In about 20% of people, decreased functioning results.” I discontinued that medication after reading about it. It may be worth having a conversation about the risk vs reward with your doctor. The prescribing physician didn’t mention this to me and I wish that I had been educated about it before I started taking it. I just thought that I would share this with you for what it’s worth.

  2. Great advice Kelli. I never would have thought about asking for the lower dosage pills and having them cut. We ran into prescription problems all the time when my husband was being treated for cancer. Sometimes I had to just not fill prescriptions that weren’t covered by our insurance because I couldn’t afford the out of pocket costs. I always asked about coupons but never thought of changing the dosage.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story of medications and how frustrating it can be. The questions you propose are all good ones for each of us ask our own providers. I’m glad it worked out for you.

  4. Prescription prices are ridiculous and it is crazy that the pharmacy can’t work out the best deal for you. Thank you for sharing this info. I hadn’t thought about changing a dosage to get it to work. Glad this is working out for you.

  5. Good advice. Thanks for sharing. If I recall correctly, another thing I found out a couple of years ago when my med went from $100 for three months to $100 per month is that the insurance pharmacy providers can change what they cover and the amounts every 3 months. Thankfully I was able to stop taking the med but the sudden changes in healthcare are very frustrating. Thanks again for the info about how to possible combat the issue in one area.

  6. As a former pharm tech student, we were taught about the coupons and checking the manufacturer sites for discounts. I didn’t know about doseage sizes. But my experience is at walmart. They have a special list of 4.00 a month medications. It was cheaper to pay cash off that list than use my insurance. Also checking to see if your pharmacy is a preferred pharmacy helps with costs as well. Walgreens wasn’t a preferred pharmacy, and therefore our copay was more. Walmart would be 15.00 for 3 months based on the fact that I took 1 1/2 pills a day and CVS did not have the special list for 4.00 so my insurance cost was 20.00 a month. I don’t particularly care for walmart, but the savings of 1 med alone 60.00 a year vs 240.00 makes it worthwhile to shop around.

  7. Sigh. Such a nasty lesson to have to learn the hard way. Thanks for your story.

    I changed insurance companies one year ago to the most recognized insurance name in the country. What a surprise to find out that this new insurance plan won’t cover half of the prescription drugs that I have taken for years. I had no idea! Lesson learned for Moi: As of the first of the year, I will change insurance companies again to get one that does cover the medicines I need.

  8. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Good advice! I have asthma and use 3 different inhalers that are very expensive at my local pharmacy, but a PA hooked me up with a pharmacy in Canada where my inhalers are shipped free every 3 months and those three months worth cost less then one month would cost here. They can’t ship every drug, but the ones they do are significantly less expensive compared to here.

  9. GOOD for you! Good for you finishing classes! finding out what to do to help yourself! I’ve learned to deal w my anxiety, maybe it isn’t as bad as yours…. but I can remember sitting in an exam (more than once) and calling myself stupid and arragont that I could think I could do this….. etc ETC! Some how I managed to find one answer to those tests and then another….
    As for medication costs it is UNREAL! some of my asthma meds w/o insurance would be $300 a month. I hope they come up with a better plan. DH just told me I’m getting a 3% raise on my SSI but that medicare is going to cost me $25 more per month! LOL I only get $300/ month!!! luckily it’s not my only source of income.

  10. Bless your heart! Nothing like jacking up your anxiety trying to find affordable anti-anxiety meds. I know you can look at goodrx.com to find where the cheapest price is on a particular medication. The WalMart list is a good idea as well.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story, Kelli. You are so right. As a Public Health Nurse I see this sort of thing all the time. Shame on that pharmacist. They need start being advocates for their customers. They need to consistently find the best and cheapest options for their pts. Same with medical providers. I am sure most nurses and other staff in the hospitals and clinics have no idea how much things cost. Pt’s need to start demanding that they do.

  12. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had such a struggle with anxiety. Luckily, anxiety is one of the psychological issues that is fixable with therapy. If you wanted to be able to stop using the medications entirely, you might want to look into therapy. A good Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) therapist or EMDR therapist can work wonders for people with anxiety. PsychologyToday.com has a therapist finder feature that can show you the therapists in your zip code who specialize in treating anxiety using these methods.

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