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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The cost of trial and error

New Westminster, B.C. resident Jason Bosher is crafting a career as a writer/editor. Since 2001, he has been dealing with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis in his hips, minor carpel tunnel disease, and a chronic spine issue.

I love this country and I am grateful for Canada’s health care system. If I had to find one fault with our system, it would be the medication hierarchy. I have rheumatoid arthritis. I am also considered low income. I spend about $400/month on medications.

After six years, my initial medications were no longer keeping my RA in remission. I had two basic options: if I wished to receive partial coverage from the government, I had to show the next two medications in the hierarchy were ineffective. Then, the drug my specialist believed would be the most effective would partially be covered.
Or, I could go straight to the recommended medication and pay the full price myself, which was quite expensive.

Wait a minute; let’s go back to option A. I would have to ingest medications with all sorts of potential side effects for a prolonged period of time. Then if my RA began to flare up and reduce my quality of life, I could move on to the next medication. If this medication failed I could then receive the recommended medication with some cost savings. The big danger with a disease like RA is that due to its unpredictable nature, once out of remission it may never go back into remission. If I chose to play the health care game, I could potentially become severely disabled for life.

To me the gamble wasn’t worth it. I chose option B. This raises a couple of questions: If I went with option A and became severely disabled, wouldn’t that place a far greater strain on our health care system? If I could no longer work, wouldn’t that be worse than receiving help with medication costs now?
A sound recommendation from a specialist should allow for partial coverage.

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