It’s time for my annual medical tourism trip to Europe

It’s that time again. When I act like I’m from a small village in a developing country and fly to western Europe in order to buy my asthma drugs that are 5x cheaper in France than they are America.

Why are they cheaper in France?  Not because of government subsidies. But rather because international pharmaceutical companies charge you and me, in general, three to five times what they charge Europeans SIMPLY BECAUSE WE’RE AMERICAN.

So, in a way, you could say we’re number 1.

advair

Advair costs 5x in America what is costs in France because the drug companies simply charge Americans more.

symbicort (1)

As I’d written before, at least US insurance companies are now cracking down on Advair, but they still seem to think that Symbicort is a good alternative. Yes, Symbicort that only gouges Americans by charging us 3.5x what they charge the French. That’s what counts as a “bargain” in Big Pharma -land.

My trip to France literally breaks even after I buy my Advair. It’s ridiculous. And offensive.

Maybe I’ll bring it back home in one of those big plastic colored oversized shopping bags that the old-world grannies use instead of suitcases!

Bon voyage.

(Someone is less than thrilled that I’m leaving her with mom.)

sasha-bed


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Julien Pierre

    Part of the problem is that the cost of Truvada as PreP is the same as for treatment. And it’s about 2/3 of the cost of a full 3-drug HIV regimen , ie. to treat someone who is already infected. The financial choice for the insurance company is between having no one on PreP and paying only for treatment for those infected, or put lots of people on PrEP, at great cost, and then pay for a full regimen for a smaller number of patients.

    Of course, the HIV-infected patients will also have many other additional costs to the insurance company beyond the drug regimen.

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  • So so tired of Bill Perdue

    Snookums, are you still in contact with any of your old Maoist buddies up here in Seattle? I know what they did to you was just awful, kicking your old ass to the curb like they done, but after all that was almost 45 years ago. Time to move on.

  • So so tired of Bill Perdue

    Speaking of meds, what do they have you on nowadays? You still seem sort of lucid today. Well, as lucid as it ever gets for you.

  • So so tired of Bill Perdue

    So hon,what does Vegas have to do with California? Do they still have you confined to that awful retirement home for has-been Marxists? Sweetums, you really need to come home to Seattle. You must be roasting down there this time of year.

  • Bill_Perdue

    I haven’t lived there for but that sounds a lot like the awful combination of Obamacare and Medical in California. People are going to continue to become disabled, continue to be maimed by poor care and continue to die in both our countries because capitalist politicians are political prostitutes for the rich who own insurance companies, medical care companies and, as you say, big pharma.

    I’m sorry to hear that the rightists are imposing austerity measures. We get a lot of that here which is why the standard of living of workers has plummeted.

    The only country with decent, affordable medical care in our region is Cuba and that’s in spite of Obama’s spiteful embargo, el bloqueo, in place since the Eisenhower regime.

  • Tone

    We need it in Canada too. Our so-called universal health care has gaping holes that marginalized people all too easily fall through. A good start would be universal pharmacare.

    Saskatchewan, up until 1982, and at the time a fairly poor “have not” province, once had near universal pharmacare. Anyone living in the province only had to pay a nominal dispensing fee of $2 per prescription, and even that was waived for people with low income. It was done away with when a right wing government was elected in 1982. It never returned even though Saskatchewan is now one of Canada’s richest provinces thanks to a robust resource sector.

    I live in British Columbia and not only do we not have pharmacare except for people on public assistance, we also have an unfair and extremely regressive mandatory health care premium. Sure it is better than nothing but it is a hell of a long way from true universal health care and it leaves the poorest among us with the fewest options.

    If Canada had a universal national pharmacare program it could save us more than ten billion dollars a year. Of course neither the Conservatives of the “Liberals” have any interest in that because they would rather pander to the profit margins of pharmaceutical companies.
    https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/national-pharmacare-plan-could-save-107-billion-year-study

  • Tone

    An annual holiday in Europe? Quel dommage!

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  • Bill_Perdue

    More personal attacks by a Democrat, a supporter of one of the two the party of war, racism on the border, mass murder, union busting and the degradation of the environment.

    You probably are a liberal but liberals are not part of the left.

  • Thom Allen

    You parroted yourself again. You have a limited vocabulary, too, outside of your prepared “socialist” rants. Guess you still have nothing of merit to say, as usual.

    Bye, bye, Bill. You can do your famous Clint Eastwood impression again as soon as you find a chair to talk to. You might even have better luck winning the debate with the chair. You don’t do nearly as well when you debate liberals and progressives.

  • Bill_Perdue

    You got personal again. It’s all you’ve got. Poor thing.

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  • john ruff

    What? You mean even though you’re a white, male, professional in DC you still can’t afford your asthma medication? Just kidding. But seriously, It’s good to know that I’m not the only white guy in DC that doesn’t have the means to pay for many of the things that so many others seemingly can afford in this bubble of a town. I shoulda chose law as my career.

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  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Part of the problem is the concept of PrEP in itself, when an insurance company by its very business model deals with profiting from risk. If they know a customer is intentionally putting themselves at risk for an expensive medical problem, what’s more cost effective – helping them prevent it, or simply determining they are too much of a risk and dropping their coverage? The Affordable Care Act makes the decision for them a little more complicated, because having HIV is no longer a barrier to becoming insured, but that certainly doesn’t mean they can’t make things difficult. In the end, doctors really don’t have much say in your treatment anymore unless you can afford something out of pocket. If the insurance company is involved in any way, they’re the ones who get to make the final decisions – and whether you live or die, or are in good health or suffering, isn’t even a consideration for them. The accounting ledger is all that matters to them.

  • Thom Allen

    Not fair. You doubled dog down, it’s a toofer. It looks like he’s laughing.
    We’ll have to see if John picks up the gauntlet.

  • Thom Allen

    I got personal? No, just honest. Many of your screeds are much longer than they need to be.

    BTW. as far as getting personal . . . 1. “You’re very confused. I can’t think of any way to end your confusion except to suggest that you read – a lot. RIF” And, “2. When right wingers lose arguements (sic) they always get personal. It’s all they’ve got. Poor things.”

    You apparently forgot what you posted earlier. That sometimes happens to angry people to whom no one ever listens.. In any case, you had no rebuttal to present, which puts you in to your own category #2.

    Thanks for playing, but you lose.

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  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Like a hot or not for pets. Like it. Here’s my boy with his big brother.

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  • Bill_Perdue

    When right wingers lose arguements they always get personal. It’s all they’ve got. Poor things.

  • Thom Allen

    The best thing about THIS post of yours, unlike most of your others, is that it’s brief-though just as inaccurate as most of your previous ones.

  • Bill_Perdue

    You’re very confused. I can’t think of any way to end your confusion except to suggest that you read – a lot. RIF

  • Thom Allen

    Of course it does. Then you just used the incorrect phrase in your initial post. That’s OK.

  • Bill_Perdue

    When the phrase is used by socialists it means socialized health care.

  • Thom Allen
  • Thom Allen

    OK. Hmmm, maybe John could do a post on “Whose pet is cuter” and people could upload their pet’s pics for voting.

  • Thom Allen

    When the phrase was originally coined, it referred primarily to preventive health measures, then gradually it expanded to include doctor’s appointments and hospitalization. It didn’t include drugs, outpatient testing, outpatient labs, etc.

  • Thom Allen

    I agree the cost is ridiculous.
    But the guidelines specify that the patient gets seen every three months for refills, is gay or bi, has HIV before getting started and periodically after starting testing, gets counseling, get monitored for side effects, etc. In this case, the insurance companies are just following the guidelines.

    Insurance companies can cut off approval for any drug. I’ve gone to the drug store and tried to get a refill. The insurance company dropped the drug. I had to make a doctor’s appointment, get a prescription for a different drug. Then the pharmacy told me that one wasn’t covered. Had to call doctor’s office to get that one approved. It took weeks. And that wasn’t for truvada. Insurance companies and drug companies have all of us by the balls, regardless.

  • emjayay

    Interesting piece about restaurant food today in France:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/opinion/french-food-goes-down.html?ref=opinion&_r=0
    John?

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    That really isn’t the point. The ridiculous cost is still being paid… and insurance companies have a way of randomly deciding whether you’re worthy of certain coverage. Especially when it comes to being approved for PrEP: you have to prove to them your risk for exposure, have had appropriate sexual education counseling, prove you haven’t been exposed recently, and take regular HIV tests. Not that you wouldn’t want those things if you were at risk, but even then the approvals are only for a few months at a time. So you have to constantly jump back through their hoops any time you are up for a refill, and they could drop your approval at any time, for whatever reason they see fit and there’s nothing you, or your doctor, can do about it.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    It costs about half, ~$20 a dose as opposed to the US which is ~$43 per.

  • charlesjharper

    upto I saw the receipt four $8937 , I accept …that…my mom in-law had been truley bringing in money part time from their laptop. . there brothers friend haz done this for only eight months and resantly cleard the morgage on their place and bought a top of the range Lancia . look at here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • Bill_Perdue

    No. If I meant just meds I’d have said so.

    I mean socialized heath care financed by the confiscation of the assets of Obama’s insurance buddies without compensation and a confiscatory tax on the wealth of the rich from any and all sources.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    I’ll upload a bigger pic so the battle can get real!

  • Thom Allen

    I think that bringing back prescription drugs from another country is illegal. It is illegal to have them shipped in from other countries, like from Canadian pharmacies. But US Customs usually ignores it if it’s a 6 month supply or less. But, if it’s illegal, I wouldn’t want to explain it to the IRS if I deducted the trip as a medical expense.

  • Thom Allen

    Isn’t it covered under your health insurance?

  • Thom Allen

    You mean “socialized medication.”

  • tamarz

    our dog is moping around the house since our daughter went to camp. She bugs him unmercifully and he loves every minute of it. Without her:

    The earth turns
    The sun burns
    But I die without you
    [from Rent]

  • zerosumgame0005

    Is there anything more pathetic and cute then a dog pining away for it’s person of choice? :)

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    It’s my cat. After all, she has patent leather fur. Well, it only looks that way.

  • Thom Allen

    Hard to tell. Your dog’s image is so tiny that Sacha may win by default.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    I know. I can’t decide who’s cuter!!!

  • Thom Allen

    It looks like your dog and John’s are having a pose down.

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  • angryspittle

    Can you deduct the trip as a medical expense? That would really make it worthwhile!

  • Bill_Perdue

    We need socialized medicine.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Bon voyage!

  • Indigo

    That’s too much fun!

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Have fun in France. I saw this funny cartoon on polandball that has France in it so I’m putting it here…

    http://i.imgur.com/jwpnwPB.png

  • theresaSuttons

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