Friday, August 20, 2010

Drug trafficking

The campground host certainly looked interested as our friend Bob said, “Why don’t you pay for the two campsites on your credit card since I brought you the drugs?”
We quickly, and loudly, pointed out that he might want to use the word “prescription”, rather than drugs since he had picked up that last little bit for us at our home drugstore before heading out to meet us for a two-day camp on Vancouver Island. We may not be young, and we may be semi-retired, but it’s our generation that first brought fear and loathing to our parents with the word drugs.
Travelling with drugs, or if you prefer prescriptions, is not simple. Between the two of us, we have a medium Rubbermaid tub full of prescriptions, supplements and natural remedies that will last us for the next four to five months. On top of that, there is a small AC/DC cooler that holds four months supply of Vicki’s medication for multiple sclerosis, meaning that only one month has to take up space in the small three-way fridge in our 17-foot Burro trailer. The medication must be kept cool at all times so reaching in to check temperature in either fridge or cooler has become routine already.
Getting the supply covered by the medical system in British Columbia was no easy feat either. BC’s Fair Pharmacare system, which pro-rates the cost of prescriptions to residents according to income, has an iron-clad vacation policy. It will cover, and issue, 100 days of any prescription. If you’re planning a trip longer than 100 days, Fair Pharmacare doesn’t care. You can easily order a longer period of any prescription, but you’ll pay full price for it.
Under FairPharmacare coverage, Vicki’s MS medication costs $67.70.
Without that coverage, it rings in on the cash register at $1,660 per month.
That wasn’t an option our travel budget could absorb.
With the help of a couple of creative pharmacies, we learned that a prescription may be ordered and covered under FairPharmacare, such an oxymoron, every two weeks. Luckily, we were setting all of this up well ahead of our departure date so were able to stockpile a couple of months, using the two-week order time frame, before we resorted to the 100-day vacation supply.
There was a panicky moment where we thought it wasn’t going to work with Vicki’s MS medication and were presented with the ugly thought that we might have to cut our trip short and make a run for the border simply to get more drugs. But a pharmacy assistant at Shoppers Drug Mart, sitting at home pondering the problem one night, decided to put Vicki’s name and prescription needs on her personal calendar. She ordered precisely on the two-week interval and came through with the needed supply with FairPharmacare coverage.
We hope she enjoyed the roses we left at work for her, with our heartfelt thanks.
None of this, in any way, defrauds BC’s FairPharmacare system. We have our prescriptions filled to last us until the end of the year. Had we stayed home and not travelled, FairPharmacare would have covered the same drugs in that time frame.
Point is, if you’re planning an extended trip, think about your prescription drug needs well before your planned departure date.
And don’t refer to them as drugs in front of outsiders, particularly campground hosts, border crossing guards, traffic cops, county sheriffs ....

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