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Supporting those struggling to pay for necessary medicine

At the pharmacy counter, I was in one of two lines and a discussion was taking place next to me between an elderly customer and another pharmacy cashier. The customer was trying to pick up a medicine refill that "helped him with pain in his chest" and he was scared because he only had a few left and needed more medication. The cashier told the customer his mail order would arrive at the pharmacy. The customer asked for a partial fill because he would not have money to pay for the whole bottle, emphasizing the need for the medication and his fear about the chest pain. Unfortunately, the pharmacy staff insisted they could not open the bottle, but they could give him a day or two to get him by. The customer was thankful, but clearly very worried and continued to express his fear about the medicine running out before he could pay for the bottle.

Overhearing this, I quietly wrote a note to ask my cashier if I could help pay for the medication. They were able to orchestrate the payment without knowledge to the customer and without any violation of privacy, for the customer and for myself.

My heart breaks when I hear stories of elderly people not being able to afford medications, or halving medications to try to make them last until the next payment when living on a fixed income. There has to be a better way.

I hope the customer's fear was alleviated when he learned he would receive the medication he needed, without the stress of finding some way to pay for it.


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