|Wait a sec...is that BUTTER in that butter compartment?! WTF?|
But after reading a recent post over at Six Until Me, my mind started working about that insulin lounging in the butter compartment. I got curious about the real cost of the life-sustaining medicine being pumped into my body on a daily basis. The real cost. Not the after-insurance "feel good" amount that takes away the reality of what it truly costs to have this life-sustaining, Liquid Langerhans.
My mission became clear. I had to know.
Unable to find the receipt showing said cost of just purchased insulin, we made a return trip to the local retail pharmacy to retrieve that financial 411. There was someone at the counter ahead of us, so I perused the nearby D-supply shelves and toyed with the idea of buying a home A1c test or snagging an extra jar of glucose tabs. Suzi snapped me back to reality once it was clear the Nice Pharmacist Guy was patiently eying us and waiting for us to approach the counter.
Me: "We were just in the other day refilling a prescription... well, actually, she was for one of my prescriptions... and we needed to get a copy of the bill showing the cost breakdown. Is that possible?"
NPG: "The co-pay amount?
Me: "Actually, the full retail cost before insurance. Does it have that?"
NPG: "Of course. Just a receipt? I can do that."
We laid out my identification and told him it was for the Humalog, and he quickly hit a button on the keyboard and made the printer came to life. NPG grabbed it and brought it over, asking if that's what I was looking for with the co-pay amount of $40 listed on it. I glanced at the top of the sheet, to the left of that amount, and saw in fine print a different line that said, "Retail Value: $419.99."
An internal "YIKES" tried to escape, but I suppressed the sticker-shock.
Me: "That does it. Thank you, very much."
He went about his pharmacist duties, and we left to walk around the rest of the store for a bit as my mind tried to process the D-Math of a different kind.
Looking at that number again, it simply astounds me - $420 a month, or $1,260 for a three-month supply of insulin. Geez, there must have truly been gold in that liquid of langerhans!
Of course, it's tough to not recognize and be VERY thankful that we have health insurance that wipes out a majority of that total. Luckily, I'm paying less than 10% of the total cost. For all it's woes and failings, insurance is an incredible blessing. I just hope that those without the option currently are someday soon able to get at least a taste of the coverage... (keep the health care reform, cough cough).
Anyhow, knowing the total cost of my insulin addiction, it was now time to check for money savings that might be available elsewhere. Doing some online research with our insurance company, I learned that getting a three-month supply of insulin through the mail order ExpressScripts (Medco, who?!?!) would save us about $20 a month ($80 per year).
Backstory: Through a previous insurance plan with a longtime employer, we had the luxury of a 90-day supply from the same retail pharmacy for about the same as it would have cost from out-of-state medical supply company, so that's the option we chose. Insurance changes in early 2010 switched up insurers (and decreased coverage) and capped the retail pharmacy supply at 30 days. I didn't have the energy at the time to switch to mail-order, and so I just stayed with the local shop. Fast forward to now. After Kerri's post, I wanted to know what it really cost to get insulin and whether there might be some money-saving options available elsewhere.
It looks like mail order might be on the horizon! There's something reassuring about having a butter compartment full of insulin, rather than being on that last bottle and bringing all the uncertainty of possibly running out or dropping and shattering it at the worst possible moment when BGs are sky high. So, once this monthly supply runs thin, it looks like we'll go after the mail-order method.
In a world where this Liquid of Langerhans appears to be laced with gold, any little savings helps out.