Of all of the injustices, inequality of healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King’s words are every bit as prescient today (and quite possibly even more so) as when he spoke them 60 years ago at symposium on healthcare. They make an excellent introduction to this blog article. The spirit has moved me to detail my latest fight with WellCare, private health insurance company, to get a medically necessary drug covered and moved to a classification tier that puts it in the realm of affordability. In writing about my own struggle, I am reminded of Scott Desnoyers’ heartache at the hands of FidelisCare, also a private health insurance company. Scott is a friend of mine on Twitter and I feel as if I could be a brother to his son, Danny. Sadly, Danny became a victim of the injustice put upon him by Fidelis.
I am certainly not shy in detailing my own struggle with mental illness and my doctors found a medication, Latuda, that works in a way no others have. Latuda is not available in generic formulations just yet so WellCare classifies it as a Tier 4 drug in which I must pay a copay of 47% of the retail cost of the medication which comes out to roughly $933.00 for a 30 day supply. That works out to 31.10 for a tiny pill. My fight began nearly a week ago when I only had 11 days left on the sample of Latuda that I was given. Since Latuda is effectively the glue that makes the morning and evening antidepressants that I take work well together, I was naturally very concerned what would happen if I were to run out and suddenly stop. Latuda has a short half life so there is no telling what would happen; possibly becoming suicidal again and maybe successful this time. For those of you who do not know, a short half life means the medication works just about right away and stops working in the same fashion.
I finally won my fight 7 days later with only 4 remaining doses. However, I cannot breathe a sigh of relief because I think of my friend Scott Desnoyers and Danny. Danny was taking a medication, Risperidone, that is available in generic form yet was still unaffordable and denied to him over a missed $20.00 payment. Risperidone has a short half life which means that the missed doses rapidly caused Danny to slip into suicidal depression. In other words Fidelis did not care. When I think about Danny, I think that this could have easily happened to me as well. While I never knew Danny, I feel a certain kinship to him and my heart aches for Scott’s and Anna’s loss. A life is worth infinitely more than $933.00, let alone $20.00. Had I known Danny and known he was struggling, I would have paid for 6 months of his insurance.
I will finally leave you with these thoughts: Fidelis is Latin for faithful. Certainly FidelisCare showed neither faith nor care when it came to Danny Desnoyers. According to FidelisCare, Danny’s life was worth less than $20.00. Furthermore, there is nothing Well or Care about WellCare. WellCare fought tooth and nail not to have to cover my drug because my death would be cheaper for them. We need to bring our fight for Medicare For All to center stage. The only answer to healthcare injustice is the end to private health insurance as we know it.