Friday, January 1, 2010

Ethics of Saving Prescription Drugs

Regarding prescription drugs I've been slowly banking my medications. I can live without them but my performance (alertness and balance) deteriorate considerably without them. In the initial SHTF ("Stuff" Hits The Fan) situation I'll need all my faculties so I'm setting aside a little at a time.

This seems prudent. I wonder if it is ethical.

Of course, the main ethical issue with prescription drugs is in the word "prescription". One must have a good reason for taking a drug and a certified doctor must agree and write out an authorization (called a prescription) for you to take to the pharmacist.

Who pays?

I have insurance so my insurance company pays. I hand over some money to the pharmacist but I know that in many instances the money I hand over does not cover the cost of the medicine. My money is actually paying the pharmacist for service (like paying an auto mechanic for labor and having the insurance company pay for the parts). So if I am setting aside prudent reserve of medicine, am stealing from the insurance company?

I assume that setting aside a week's worth of medication is not a problem. There is always some overlap between refills. Insurance companies work this into their figures. It is probably stretching things to say that a month is OK, but if one uses care (as I am doing) over a few months of overlap, one could collect a month's worth of medication. I'm calling this a maximum without getting permission from your insurance company.

Why limit it at a month?

I'm not limiting the amount set aside. I am limiting the amount I can ethically expect my insurance company to pay for. Beyond that, I should pay for the additional backup at whatever price I can work out with my pharmacist (keeping in mind that I need to let my doctor know too). Keeping a month's worth of medications will help in a temporary disaster situation such as a tornado hitting our area. (That happened within a few miles of us a few years ago.) Or in case the pharmacy runs out of my medications temporarily which could happen if another hurricane hits our state. We are a main evacuation point so a sudden increase in population will draw down the local supplies of everything including medications.

Some preppers are preparing for a total, long term disaster. Such a disaster has not been my experience but if one is really worried, one will need at least a year's worth of medications and a way of storing those medications over the long term. You will also have to work out something with your doctor so that you can hand the pharmacist something reasonable and pay for it out of your own pocket. You can't expect an insurance company to pay for that without their express permission. That would be unethical.

I'll talk a little about storage of medication in a later posting.

Be well.

Alex Shrugged

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