Only meds on the magic list are paid for

Re: "Scrimping on meds..." News, January 20, 2012

This article reveals something that I have been struggling with for about three years. Too many drugs and not enough money to buy them. I suspected that I wasn’t the only one who skips doses and puts off buying more when the funds are low or non-existent. Actually, I’m surprised that the percentages aren’t higher.

In reality, the number of people living with chronic, untreated health problems is going to grow.

What I take issue with, however, are the comments by Health Minister Mike de Jong.

“Prescription drug costs are entirely covered with no deductible for more than 270,000 low-income patients in B.C.,” he asserts. Sounds impressive. As long as those patients use the “approved” drugs. For example, you’re a patient who is unable to tolerate a particular drug that’s covered, but can take a similar one that isn’t on the “magic” list. Well, you pay, take the one that makes you sick, or take nothing.

The government puts a dollar limit on each prescription. If the total amount is more than what they will pay (due to higher dispensing fees or drug cost increases), the patient has to pay the difference.

I am on a provincial disability. I have a number of health issues that need treatment.

It annoys me when people think that all my medical needs are paid for by the government. In this article, the Minister of Health claims that people on social assistance “pay nothing out of pocket”. This is untrue.

Some prescription drugs are not covered because they have been removed from the “magic” list for one reason or another, most likely cut backs. Other medications that were once available only by prescriptions are now over-the-counter (OTC). Therefore, I have to pay for them.

Certain medical supplies need to be individually approved. This means filling out the proper forms, getting a doctor’s prescription and letter (in which your doctor has to use the right words and jump through the proper hoops) and running here and there. Then everything is handed in to the local office and you wait. Some advise, don’t do this when summer is approaching because that request will sit on a desk for months. Asking about it makes no difference. You’re just told that it’s being reviewed. Finally, someone will come across it in October and it may be approved in December. Sometimes they send a letter asking for “more information.” Often, the request is denied.

As the article ends, de Jong is still sputtering what he hopes are positives that will detract from the issues at hand, pointing out that B.C. “provides more extensive drug coverage on many fronts.” What does he mean exactly and can he provide examples?

It makes me feel so much better that Mr. de Jong vows, “We need to take a close look…” Sounds like the usual response from a government minister who has no solutions and won’t be taking a close look.

Christene Fitzgerald