I saw a patient today, a sweet elderly Hispanic woman of very limited means, and possessing of very limited education, who is lost in the maze of the convoluted Medicare system and cannot obtain her rheumatoid arthritis medications. She doesn’t qualify for Medicaid. Can’t afford other supplemental insurance. She signed up for Medicare parts A and B, but didn’t know she had to sign up for part D, and now she can’t obtain her TNF-inhibitor (for more than half a year now). What’s worse, she was recently told by her pharmacy that she won’t be able to get her methotrexate, prednisone, or quite frankly any of her medications. She’s been in a flare for many months, her disease gnawing away at her joints with irreversible damage.
This is tragic. What’s ironic is that the very system that should help people of her demographic (elderly, of limited means, etc.) has her lost instead in a complicated, confusing maze of complexity.
We tried to help her out as well as we could. My attending spoke with a drug procurement specialist about her situation. I referred her to a case manager.
But it shouldn’t have even come to this. The system in place to help her demographic should make it easy for people like her to obtain the treatment they need. Sadly, ironically, tragically, many seniors find the system confusing.