OK so it’s expensive but would you really rather go without it?

Generally little things cost small amounts of money. Unless it’s a diamond. Or some medications. And this was brought to my attention most recently by a comment left on an old Plavix post. My premise is that the public thinks about the cost of medical intervention the wrong way. (Duh!)

It’s not uncommon to hear people complain about the cost of Ambien (with apologies to Dr Dino :) ). Until recently, Ambien was one of the most expensive, yet most common medications. And also widely complained about. Patients don’t like the fact that it’s costing them $45/month to take some tablets to help them sleep.

But this anger is the result of a flawed perception. Instead of valuing the tablets as something that you hold in your hand and swallow, you should be valuing the quality of life that they afford you. Is it worth $1-1.50 per night to sleep well? If you asked a person with insomnia if they would pay $1.50 to enjoy a full night’s sleep just before they’re about to go to bed, most would pay without complaint.

It would be foolish NOT to.

It amuses me that people pay the high cost of Viagra without any problems. And that they’ll throw down $10-15,000 on plastic surgery, or $75/month for Propecia, but they complain about a medication that is keeping them alive. Honestly, if having high cholesterol was a cosmetic issue, and relative attractiveness correlated with your LDL levels, there would be NO complaining about the cost of a given statin.

5 thoughts on “OK so it’s expensive but would you really rather go without it?

  1. I just love the look on people’s faces when I tell them that their $50 copay is actually good because without insurance it’s $500. Priceless.

  2. It’s even more amusing in the UK, where most people pay nothing. One patient complained about a private (= not on NHS) prescription for his wife costing £20. His NHS prescription was for 2 months worth of casodex – £240 trade per month! Priceless. And today I had someone paying over £300 for four months worth of reminyl.

  3. Remember Bill Cosby’s line, “Hey, you–almost a doctor!”

    There is a caste system in the head of each customer/patient. They complain to us, and not to the doctor, because we are not doctors and we are reminiscent of soda jerks to them, so they feel they can use us as whipping boys. They would never use the beknighted physician as such; it would be like cat-o’-nine-tailing a priest.

  4. Bill Cosby is before my time, you old fart. :D

    You’re right, though. You wrote once about the dichotomy between “trade” and “profession” and I’ve noticed it as well. The older people seem to think pharmacy is more of an apprenticeship thing where you might go to school for a year or two and that’s it, whereas the younger people seem to know that there’s a buttload of school and hard work involved in being a pharmacist.

    Given that I do consulting mostly for baby-boomers, I like to think that I’m doing my little bit to change some opinions. Many seem amazed that they can ask the questions they really want to ask, and get real answers without being rushed out. I guess that’s the difference between essentially being salaried and being paid for an office visit where more people = more money.

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