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They Need Brain Drops

, , , , | Healthy | January 26, 2020

(I work in a pharmacy. The national Finnish health insurance covers certain medicines — insulin, medicine for glaucoma, etc. — almost 100%; you only pay 4,50 euros for three months’ use. But there is a price range the insurance covers and if there are less expensive generic alternatives, the insurance covers only the cheapest for 4,50€. You can still have the more expensive brand, but you have to pay the price difference yourself. Some medicines don’t have generic alternatives for years, but when they eventually come available, this is often the discussion:)

Me: “This eyedrop used to be 4,50€ but now there’s another brand that is 19€ cheaper so the health insurance covers only the cheaper one for that price. If you don’t want to change brands, you have to pay 4,50€ plus 19€; that is 23,50€.”

Patient: “Okay, I don’t want to change brands; I want to talk with my doctor first. I’ll take the original.”

Me: “Yes, that’s fine. You can have either one, but for the original, you now have to pay 23,50€.”

Patient: “Yes, but I don’t want another brand. I’ll just take the original today and talk with my doctor about the generic alternative. I’ve always used [Brand]. I’ll take that one.”

Me: “All right. I understand the situation. There used to be only [Brand] but last month [Cheaper Brand] became available and they set their price much lower. That is why the health insurance doesn’t cover the original [Brand] anymore, even though it used to cost only 4,50€. But you can still always choose the original one if you want. It’s just a bit more expensive now.” *enters the original brand on the computer and sends the customer to pay*

(An hour goes by and the telephone rings:)

Patient: “Yeah, I was there earlier and bought my glaucoma drops. They should be 4,50€ but it says on the receipt that I paid 23,50€ ! Why was it so much?”

Me: “…” *loses a little bit more faith in humanity every time*

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