Cash or Hosing?

My posts tapered to near zero about six months ago in part due to an $1850 emergency medicine board recert exam last Tuesday. But since it’s now in the rear view mirror (unless I blew it), I can finally type again. I thought I’d start back with a story about the flu, since ’tis the season.

As per usual, every ER seems to be swamped with flu patients and Pre-R is having a bump as well. Whenever I get home, I try to shower off to protect the kids, but about a week ago, my boy Max seemed to have the same symptoms as everyone else on the Central Coast.

I was tired and our stock piles of acetaminophen, ibuprofen and diphenhydramine were running low. So I headed to the pharmacy. While there, it occurred to me that I’d prescribed Tamiflu for patients who seemed far less sick than Max. I’m also aware that kids of ER docs sometimes feel medically neglected unless they’re impaled by arrows.

Knowing Max was approaching the end of day two of misery, and waiting for morning would make Tamiflu even less likely to be useful, I walked up to the pharmacist to see about getting a course of the nostrum. He took my insurance card and 20 minutes later was ready with the med. However, he sheepishly informed me that the cost would be $128 because of the “Yugo” insurance plan we’re driving. (You’ll have to be over 40 to get that.) When your kid is shivering and hacking, you’ll spend whatever it takes. So I swiped the card and headed home.

But Max wasn’t impressed. First off, if you haven’t tasted Tamiflu liquid, you might want to before scouring the planet for a dose. Max got through three doses and we decided flu was better than aspiration pneumonia and neighbors calling child protective services. Never again.

Vanessa wasn’t impressed either. She asked if I’d used GoodRx as we’ve advocated for here on many occasions. Honestly, it never occurred to me. Sick kid… 7pm… knackered. Just swipe and go. The next day, Vanessa called our insurer who said all meds would go towards our $6000 deductible. She then went to the pharmacy and asked them to back out the charge and use the GoodRx price instead… $58! Apparently, you have to ask for the cash price. Pharmacists won’t, or maybe can’t, just tell you.

Moral 1: Ask for cash prices in all things before you just swipe and go.
Moral 2: Tamiflu (oseltamivir) tastes aweful. 
Moral 3: Send the wife. Is that sexist?

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