Conversations and healthy debate about issues facing our industry and the health care system are critical to addressing some of today’s challenges and opportunities. The Catalyst welcomes guest contributors, including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others, to share their perspectives and point of view. Views represented here may not be those of PhRMA, though they are no less key to a healthy dialogue on issues in health care today.
Today, we are pleased to welcome a guest post from Voters for Cures advocate George Burns. George is a Medicare beneficiary and uses prescription insulin every day to manage his diabetes.
It’s a fact of life that as I’ve grown older, my physical ailments continue to add up. Even though I need to manage my diabetes on a daily basis, I have a growing appreciation for modern medicine. Recent medical innovations have improved our understanding and treatment of chronic illnesses and make my life easier every day.
As a diabetes patient, I am someone who benefits directly from medical innovation. As medicines continually improve, so does my independence and overall quality of life. As a retired priest, I still want to do more to serve. While my health is important, paying for my medicines is a struggle.
Since I am retired, my expenses are modest. I’m happy to live a simple life, but it’s hard to keep up with my medical bills. In recent years, the out-of-pocket costs for my insulin have gone up, putting further limits on what I can afford. What bothers me is that insurance companies – including those that administer Medicare benefits – get rebates from drug makers for medicines like insulin but I’m still required to pay based on the full price.
I’m confident that I’m not the only one experiencing financial hardships. It pains me that my former parishioners are among the millions of people feeling the strain of high out-of-pocket costs unnecessarily. Insurance isn’t insurance if we can’t afford our medicines. Everyone in the system needs to figure out a better way for us to afford the costs of the treatments we depend on to live. One of the most important and straightforward ways to help people like me is to make sure that the discounts that are intended to benefit patients reach those who need them.
My spiritual practice teaches that health is a basic human right, just like food, water and shelter. This is why so many religious leaders devote themselves to serving the sick. My spiritual practice has also taught me wrong from right. Sharing discounts and rebates with those who rely on medicines is the right thing to do.