The presidential candidates are talking more and more about the high cost of medical care and offering their proposals. I hope the candidates realize how high prescription drug prices for patients with chronic conditions such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can be. Even patients with health coverage end up paying a great deal of money in prescription co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses. It is not uncommon for children and adults with GERD to have more than one chronic condition.
Some children, like my daughter Rebecca, struggled with both GERD and asthma during infancy and childhood, necessitating two or more prescription medications for each condition per month. There were additional out-of-pocket expenses for over-the-counter medications, special foods for GERD and medical supplies for asthma. Both medical conditions left her a virtual germ magnet. If everyone in the family had the stomach bug for a day, she had the 3-day version that required rehydration drinks or a hospital stay. When all the kids in first grade got the sniffles, she had an ear infection that progressed to pneumonia, requiring costly antibiotics (never the inexpensive generics), breathing treatments, rescue inhalers and over-the-counter pain relievers. By the time I went by the prescription counter and stocked up on over-the-counter medical supplies and special foods, I had spent half of my weekly food budget. It is always a bad sign when the entire staff of the mega store pharmacy knows you by name!
Adults with GERD often tell me they have other chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a heart condition. All of these conditions are treated with prescription medications that have a proven track record for controlling the condition, but they cost a dollar or more per pill. When I see adult relatives pulling out a handful of these medications at every meal, I can only imagine the daily cost.
Sometimes there is an inexpensive generic medication available for a chronic condition. I found that my daughter's asthma and GERD medications were seldom available in a generic form. Often, my insurance company charged a higher co-pay or refused to pay altogether. There has to be a better way. I am listening carefully to the debates and checking the HealthCentral Poligraph for information on where the candidates stand on this issue.
Published On: January 18, 2008