One of the biggest challenges of unemployment is not having medical coverage. This can be quite a challenge when you have health problems – I have Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Both had worsened during my period of unemployment, requiring an additional two medications.
Aware that our insurance would expire at the end of February, I started looking at medical expenses much more carefully.
I worked out an arrangement with my primary doctor whereby he will charge me $57 a visit. I was also told I could get my quarterly A1C check for only $14. My podiatrist said he would charge $80 per visit.
In an emergency, ER cannot turn you away, even if you have no money, so we’re covered there.
When it came to prescriptions, I called three pharmacies to get a price for each of the five prescriptions I have been on. Without insurance, they would cost me about $350 a month.
Believe it or not, I have managed to get that figure down to $13.33!!!
One drug for diabetes is priced at $283.75 for a month’s supply. In consultation with my doctor about our changed insurance situation, he said I could switch to a less powerful drug called Metformin, which is free at Meijer’s.
Meijer offers a second one free. Both are loss leaders. The idea of offering them free is to get you to purchase all your prescriptions there, which would then give them a nice profit as drugs can be very expensive (and very profitable). But you don’t have to get all your prescriptions at one place. We often shop at Meijer anyway so these two loss leaders still bring us into the store to buy food and other things.
Target is cheaper for two of the other prescriptions. I can get a three-month supply of Glimepride (a drug for diabetics) for $20; and a three-month supply of Metoprolol (for high blood pressure) for $10. By buying them quarterly I saved an extra $6 on the two.
Both are generics. Always choose generics when they are available.
Wal-Mart is the cheapest place for Lisinopril, a drug for high blood pressure I did not even need before unemployment. It will also cost me $10 for three months.
So my total expenditure on prescriptions comes to $13.33 each month; with four visits a year to each doctor my total medical costs over twelve months should work out at $764. If we had chosen private insurance we would have been paying more than that each month with a high deductible.
It clearly pays to shop around. There’s always a cheaper option.