Sticker Shock

Now I understand why psychiatric patients go off their meds.

Some bureaucrat in his/her infinite wit and wisdom drew an arbitrary line that determines whether a person is poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. Well, my monthly income is about $30 too high, so I’m left to struggle with my medical care on my own…at least until Medicare kicks in on the first of October. I’ve already had to cancel three different appointments. And I’ve found out the hard way how bloody expensive my psych meds are.

Geodon 60 mg: $250+change for 30 capsules (one month’s supply). Geodon 20 mg: over $400 for 60 caps. Zyprexa 5 mg: $235 for 30 tablets. Lamictal 200 mg: $350 for 60 tabs. The cheapest is Trazadone 50 mg: $60 for 90 tabs, and Celexa 10 mg is a little less than $10 for a 30-day supply. And all of these are generics!

Now tell me, how the F is this affordable for a person receiving less than $1500/month in disability benefits? If I hadn’t had a few bucks in savings and help from family, I’d never have been able to purchase this month’s supply, and that’s without the Geodon 20 mg. (I figured that was the one I could most easily do without, and I was right—I remain stable and have avoided withdrawal because I’m still taking the 60 mg). But God knows how I’m going to get next month’s meds…and I’m literally in fear of what could happen if I’m forced to go without most of them.

I never realized how badly not having insurance affects everyday people. I’ve gone without it before, but I was always able to get my meds somehow and they weren’t THIS costly. In fact, I never paid more than $165 for one prescription in my life, and that was at my old pharmacy for the Geodon 20 mg. (Will somebody please tell my why the 20 mg version costs more than the 60 or the 80 mg?) I’m thinking about going back to that pharmacy temporarily, even though it’s in another town 25 miles away, because their prices for most of my meds are a little lower, except for the generic Zyprexa. But I like the convenience of the new one, and I’d go back to them in October anyway, so it seems like a lot of hassle to change pharmacies for only one month.

I’ll figure it out. I usually do. It’s just that this is yet another source of stress at a time when my life is already loaded with it. I’m still very early in the process of adjusting to an existence without my husband; in fact, it’s been so stressful that I’ve dropped 17 pounds without trying. I have no appetite—I only eat when I absolutely have to—and I get full so fast that I can only hold about half of what I used to. Not that weight loss is a bad thing, but this isn’t exactly the best way to do it.

Other than all that, life goes on and I’m trying every day to honor Will’s wishes in all I say and do. In the months before he passed, he made me promise several things, among them that I’d stay on my meds, stay sober…and stay alive. None of those are particularly easy tasks right now, but I understand why he wanted me to take those vows seriously: I tend not to make the effort on my own behalf, but I’ll do almost anything for someone I love. He knew this. I don’t think he anticipated my having such a hard time keeping that first promise, but if he’s watching me from above like I hope he is, he knows I’m doing the best I can.


Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

9 thoughts on “Sticker Shock

  1. Insurance and medication costs are fucking outrageous. It’s unacceptable that some assholes on Capital Hill (with their lifetime paychecks and insurance) get to decide how we live. They need a reality check.

    Please keep your vows to Will, even though it’s so very hard. The love you two have for each other is a beautiful thing. Your Angel Husband will help you when you least expect it. {Hugs}

    Liked by 2 people

      1. As long as you don’t have Medicare/Medicaid you should be able to use the coupons. You should also contact the drug companies, they have programs for free drugs if you qualify as low income.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ouch. That hasn’t hit me despite more than that for my disability. Could that be because my wife is also on disability and Medicaid and our combined disability is less than $1500 each? I hope we don’t get caught in that.

    What really bugs me about Medicaid is the resource limit. I had to sell my motorcycle and we can’t have any real savings unless I sell my truck too. It’s not like we could save much money, but it would be nice to have some savings for those surprise expenses.But we need the insurance, just like you do.

    Be very careful dropping the Geodon, last August I tapered off it slowly with my Dr. help. It was the most miserable withdrawal I’ve ever been through, way worse than Xanax. I just had to go back on it, nothing has kept me really stable since then…

    I pray that you can keep those vows, I’ll be praying for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know about bpnurse’s exact situation, but when I was in need of assistance paying for meds, my disability was too high for me to qualify, but still way too low to pay for my meds. Total no-win situation. I hope it works better for bpnurse…

      Liked by 1 person

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