I had an interesting conversation with my rheumatologist yesterday about the cost of managing lupus.
In Australia, as a pensioner, I pay about $6 for my methotrexate. That's what it costs under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. When I've paid a certain amount on medications for the year, they're free from then on. Overall, including what I pay, and what the government pays, the methotrexate actually costs about $120, because it's a drug that's been around a long time and it's quite cheap.
Dr K asked me to guess what it cost in the USA. I guessed about $2000, because the US is notorious for the high cost of healthcare. I was way off.
It's about $5,500. (Health insurance companies would pay some of that, if the patient has health insurance.) The government there isn't involved in purchasing drugs, and doesn't negotiate the price.
I'm sure America's a much better country to be a drug company - but as a patient I'm really glad I live here.
So my rheumatologist tells me that American patients can find it cheaper to fly here to see a specialist and buy medications, than to have their treatment there. (If you're not covered by the PBS, that methotrexate would be $120 here.)
I'm finding myself wondering how to start a drug smuggling ring - to smuggle methotrexate, prednisone, plaquenil, pyralin, all the usual lupus meds to people who really need them.