the short story project


Tommy Friend

The Bitter Pill

It’s 2005 I’m working for this major trucking company and they tell us we have a new health care plan and a new healthcare provider. They tell us it’s going costs us more every week but what we don’t use will roll over to next year. We will be able to bank up our healthcare dollars in case we break our leg or have to go to the ER. I had a dedicated run out of Iowa City, Iowa to Brown Summit, North Carolina. After a couple of months of the new plan, I go into the Iowa city satellite terminal and I’m complaining. I said that the new healthcare insurance company took away our prescription drug card and now is causing me $400 a month for maintenance drugs and office visits. For having high blood pressure and high cholesterol and acid reflux disease. Lipitor $128 a month. Nexium $180 a month and two high blood pressure medicines that are causing me over $50 a month. I tell my fleet manager I said this is crazy I was paying like $18 a week. Now paying over $30 something a week. I said how is this new health care plan saving me money? He says healthcare has gone up all the drivers are coming in complaining about it. I said I didn’t mind being obese and 240 pounds when I was paying like $500 a year for these pills but I’m not going to drive a truck and be overweight if it’s going to cost me over $400 dollars a month. I told him I used to pay $18 a month for Lipitor and $20 a month for Nexium. He tells me sorry tom there’s nothing I can do about it.

It’s 2006 and I am in Lima Peru, South America and I’m walking downtown my wife and I tell her about our new healthcare care plan at work and how they’re screwing us and were paying a lot more for the same drugs. She says, what pills you need? I tell her Nexium 40 mg is $180 a month at my pharmacy in town. And that’s the most expensive one. she says I have to stop in this store and on a way to the next place that we are going there’s a pharmacy close by. I will see if I can get those pills for you. Well, I did think without a prescription she would be able to get those pills for me because in America you cannot get those without a prescription from a doctor. We are at the pharmacy she says something in Spanish to the clerk and I’m standing there and she says you need for Nexium 40 mg for heartburn. I said yes. She continues talking in Spanish I’m not sure what she was saying. She looks at me and she tells me it will be $75 and I’m thinking wow that’s great it cost me $180 in America. She gets a bag from the pharmacy and we go out on the town and later on that night at the EL PUEBLO Hotel it’s like the Hilton a five-star hotel. She gives me the bag from the pharmacy and I opened it up. I noticed there are three boxes in there. From the outside of the box, I wouldn’t know what it was. Because all the type was in Spanish but I open one box and I pull one of the pills out of the package and right there in English it says Nexium 40 mg. I said wow these are the same pills I took in America. You got me a three month supply for $75. She says yeah let me know when you need more I can get them for you. So that’s $25 a month but with my new health care plan and going to the pharmacy in the town I live in it’s $180 a month? Well, they don’t call America the richest country in the world for nothing because you know we can afford it. What was that name of our new healthcare provider??? Oh yeah, that’s right I remember seeing the commercials in America. UNITED HEALTHCARE. over 70 million customers not by choice. It’s what our employers give us as our only option and now it’s the law, so were forced to be a customer.

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