Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Between work and Blogger maintenance, it's been awhile since I've been able to update this thing.

Last Shot Day - Went fine, although my side effects were worse than in the past. I was prepared for this, though, because I wasn't feeling well the day I took the shot. I've read that if your body is already trying to fight an infection, you're probably going to feel worse when you take the shot. I definitely did.

Pooch Parade - Woohoo, it's almost here! Right now, the weather report for this weekend is cold and dry. Trying to decide whether to take the dogs' sweaters along on Saturday. Matilda likes wearing hers, but Ellie just sulks and looks like a hairy candy cane in hers. I just hope they're right about no rain, because the girls hate rain and would fight me the entire time. Not to mention the fact that my car would smell like wet dog after the ride home.

Insurance Issues - I found out last week that my company is changing health insurance providers in January. Ack! The terror of wondering whether all of my doctors are in their network...and worse, whether they will cover my very expensive medicine. I went to their website and checked their provider directory, and every one of my doctors is in their network - no worries there. Yesterday, there was an open enrollment meeting at work. My heart sank when I saw that the medical plan did not cover self-injectable drugs. I wanted to confirm whether there was a pharmacy plan in place, so I asked the rep what the policy would be for self-injectables. She quickly assured me that they're covered. Someone pointed out the statement on the medical plan, and she explained that the pharmacy rider that was in place for my company would indeed cover self-injectables. Needless to say, I was smiling for the rest of that meeting.

My costs are going up, though, as I expected them to do. Under my current plan, I pay nothing. Well, I know I'll have to pay a co-pay this time, but was wondering whether my medicine fell in their preferred or non-preferred classifications. Yeah, it's a preferred, which means the lower ($20) copay. I can't complain about paying $240 a year for an $11,000 drug. And it was delightful to see all of the MS drugs listed on their drug list, instead of having to be treated like a special case.

Time for me to get on my soapbox. I keep hearing political ads addressing prescription issues for seniors. I don't want to belittle what older people are going through, but they're not the only individuals who struggle with the cost of medication. The MS drugs are all expensive - ballpark estimate $10,000 per year. They are not covered under some health insurance plans. Some people might argue that keeping expensive drugs like this out of insurance plans helps keep down healthcare costs for most taxpayers.

I'll disagree with that assertion. Those drugs are supposed to reduce the frequency of attacks. If people suffer fewer MS attacks, then they don't need to go to the doctor's office or hospital as often for treatment. Given how long an attack can last, the expenses for treating an MS patient can be quite high. And fewer attacks can mean less disability, or a longer time until a relapsing-remitting case goes progressive. That means that a person is functioning at a higher level, and could lead to fewer people having to go on disability because of the illness.

Here's the prognosis I'm facing right now: There is a 50% chance that my MS will become progressive within 15 years of my diagnosis. Within 25 years of diagnosis, those odds go up to 90%. Now, the progression may be mild enough that I can continuing working and functioning independently. Then again, maybe not. But since I was 34 when I was diagnosed, those statistics translate to a 50% chance by the time I'm 49, and a 90% chance by the time I'm 59. I wasn't planning on retiring at 49 (dreaming about maybe, but not planning), but I may not have a choice. In that case, I'll be getting disability payments...and guess who pays for those?

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