When I moved to Italy several years ago, I had quite an interesting personal experience that I have never forgotten, and I think about often.
I had decided to quit my job (which I absolutely loved) and move to Italy for a big pre-30 adventure of a lifetime, which, to date, has been one of the most amazing and awesome times in my life. Before my last day of employment, and ultimately, my last day of healthcare coverage, I went to the doctor for a check-up. In perfect health except for chronic heartburn, my physician provided me with a prescription for Protonix so that I could fill it to have over the time that I was transitioning between countries.
I went to the pharmacy like a week later, on what I thought was the day before my healthcare coverage ended. I gave the technician my scrip, and she informed me I was no longer covered by my insurance. It had actually ended the day prior. “No problem,” I replied. “How much is it?” She said, “$156.00.” I declined, thanked her, grabbed my scrip, and was on my way.
Several weeks later, I arrived in Italy. As a citizen, I am covered by the national healthcare system, but upon arriving, needed to get my paperwork in order. Having moved permanently, I wanted to select a doctor, which I did, and I didn’t even need to make an appointment. I was seen promptly and efficiently for a check-up, during which time I told my doctor about my heartburn. I had my medical records from the U.S., which she reviewed, and before leaving, she gave me a scrip for Protonix. Unfortunately, she told me that since I wasn’t yet officially enrolled in the healthcare system, I would have to pay out of pocket.
I went to the pharmacy, gave them the scrip…and I paid 6 euros. Same scrip. Same meds. True story.
The point of me sharing this is not to discuss partisan politics or socialized medicine. I do, however, question why pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. charge such outrageous amounts for medication – is it justified or truly GROSS profit?