Monday, April 1, 2013

Sign Up for the Rite Aid Wellness+ Program

I've spent massive amounts on Rx drug costs the last few years. At around $220 a month out of pocket for Balsalazide, it's a little hard to swallow. If you spend alot every year at the pharmacy, I can recommend Rite Aid. Sign up for their wellness+ program and you'll reach a point where they give you a $10 credit for spending in the store with each prescription, and get 20% off so it makes things seem like grocery store prices.

I bought over $10 worth of toiletries the other day and I just had to pay a small amount in taxes. There is an upside to paying through the nose for prescription drugs! If you use another pharmacy check to see if their program is as good as Rite-Aid. I am with Express Scripts so Walgreens was out. After signing up make sure you tell the employee ringing you up that you are in the program, sometimes they forget to ask.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

USA High Risk Pools and Pre-existing Conditions

Some states have insurance companies that will insure you even if you have the dreaded 'pre-existing condition' that gets you rejected outright from so many others. Blue Cross and Humana turned me down, as well as a few others.

I like the high risk pools because they are not government programs so they don't preclude you from some discounts that pharmaceutical companies offer for their medicines. As private businesses they are more efficient and work harder to keep your business, governments naturally have little incentive in that regard. Some are pricey but that seems to be part of the game in the US. My premium is over $200 a month.

A tip : if you know your preexisting condition will be long term (years) and expensive and you go with one of these programs, get one of the lower deductibles. I learned this the hard way but wanted to share since others could save thousands of dollars this way. The premium will be higher but you will hit your deductible sooner for benefits to kick in. Companies won't let you lower your deductible in following years so you have to choose a low one right from the start.

Many states have high risk pools, check them out as NASCHIP. I'm broke because of my medical situation but it'd be an absolute nightmare without insurance. Medical bills were a factor in my relocation, check to see if there's a company in your state that can help before you move out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Too much!

I'm not so sure nationalized health care is the answer. The market needs to control some of the outcome, so some of our brightest minds get into the field. But as my exorbitant insurance premium has to be paid every month and I get stacks of crippling medical bills for UC, I am sure the US system hasn't figured it out yet either.
Why am I sometimes charged 2x to 4x ( ! ) what something should really cost for medical care? There is simply way too much paperwork and legal issues causing more paperwork than there should be. I am glad major news media is bringing more attention to this subject. It made the cover of TIME, with this accompanying article. I've taken way too many bitter pills recently.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Remistart -ed

Nothing I had tried with my doctor had worked, so now I am starting Remicade infusions. Hindsight is 20/20, I could have saved thousands if I had just started Remicade a couple years ago. I've spent a ton trying different medicines while being covered by poor health insurance and high premiums.

Remicade is pricey too, the 'bag' for the transfusion costs almost $1,000. Fortunately there is a rebate program called Remistart , check it out if you are having trouble keeping up with all these costs like me. They actually send you a Mastercard debit card that they charge up for you so you can pay the transfusion center.

My first transfusion went quite smoothly. The nurse recommended I take Claritin or the cheaper generic alternative Loratadine an hour before coming in. I ended up not getting itchy but that is good to know. There were basically no side effects worth mentioning. What a relief! I've seen some improvement already in my symptoms and it's only been a few days. A nice change from some of the other meds I have tried. I go back in 2 weeks, then 4 weeks after that for my 3rd transfusion. Then ideally I will be in remission!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The One, The Only

A few weeks after I tapered off Predisone, my symptoms started coming back. =/

I am still on Balsalazide and Azathioprine, but they seem to have little to no effect on me since almost daily my symptoms have gotten worse. So it felt like I had the ever elusive 'remission' for all of like 2 weeks, which was actually just Pred induced.

I also take probiotic , turmeric and Omega 3-6-9 pills. All with no apparent benefit. So I assume I will have a tougher battle with UC than I thought.

I am looking into Chinese/alternative medicine to see if I have any luck with that. I will post back on how it goes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tough Progress... but Progress it is!

I've been on Prednisone and Azathioprine both for 2 months, I can't wait til I get to taper prednisone! The second medicine I will have to stay on a bit longer since it takes longer to take effect.

I've been doing regular blood tests, make sure your doctor wants you to, as well! These expenses add up but even if you have bad insurance like me it will be worth it if remission is achieved. I'd rather be broke and healthy; able to go out even if I have no money to spend... haha.

I've lived outside the US a bit and although socialist healthcare has plenty of flaws itself (fewer sharp people want to be a doctor when they simply can't make as much money doing it, et al.) those $4 doctor visits are easy to get used to!

These meds effect my mood, make my skin break out, increase nausea and sometimes make it hard to sleep.
I am quite hungry almost all the time, which has made me gain weight.

But most importantly my UC has almost cleared up! These last 2 months have been quite difficult, with the first 2 or 3 weeks being the roughest. Feeling sick because of the Rx every day has not been pleasant. Now I'll go in to see the doctor and see what we can do to get complete remission. I assume it will include tapering Prednisone, since I've been on it too long and it's done almost all it can do, and stay on Azathioprine until I am completely well. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Prednisone and Azathioprine Side Effects

So the good news is that my required blood test 2 weeks after I started prednisone and azathioprine came out fine. Your blood should really be checked, especially if you start taking a double whammy of immunosuppressive drugs like me.

I've become quite the pill popper. I now take Colazal with each meal. This makes sense, to constantly keep it running through my system. Before I was taking it just with breakfast and dinner. I suggest making sure your doctor prescribes it for you to take 3x a day.

This week I will call pharma companies that make 5-ASA drugs and see if they can help me cover the cost of my medication. I will have to take 5-ASAs indefinitely, and the cost of Colazal is simply too high to do so, especially with taking it more frequently than before. I'd then ask my doc to prescribe the drug I found the discount on. I will post if I have any luck.

I'm drinking ginger apple juice to fight the nausea and trying all kinds of dark berry juices for the possible cancer fighting properties. Ever since my GI told me about azathioprine and cancer I've been buying more juice.

So... the side effects. There are actually some positive side effects. I've got bad arthritis in some of my joints. Azathioprine is sometimes prescribed to fight arthritis, this drug has kept my swelling way down. My joints sometimes feel like they did when I was 20! Good for lifting... sorta. Ha. Prednisone can be prescribed for asthma, it is easier for me to breath now when I work out and I never get light headed anymore when I stand up. It is nice to have some positive side effects...

But the negatives outweigh the positive side effects... this can be handled because overall the meds seem to be helping! Colazal made me nauseous, these meds more so. Sometimes much more so, that I don't want to look at food. Colitis is kind of a cruel joke to me since I can be a mighty eater. I do not have the energy to work out as much as I am used to, but I am grateful to get in the gym at least a little.

My vision has gotten quite hazy twice. I am happy this has happened only two times since this bothers me more than feeling sick to my stomach. I often get a light headache and usually feel off most of the day due to the new meds. It is harder to focus, on reading a book for example.

I am having decent success just concentrating on what the goal is: remission. This helps me handle feeling a little sick or like I am hungover throughout the day. Then I just get tired at night. The drugs also don't let me sleep as well. I often wake up way too early, and am wide awake when I do so.

*Possible TMI incoming...
Thankfully I can deal with this because overall my condition is improving! Trips to the bathroom are less frequent, with less blood. I am 'evacuating' (sorry, I thought it was funny when my doc used that term) more completely. Yay, drugs.