Chapter 206: Louella Gets Some Meds

by A.C. Cherbonnier
       LOUELLA was waiting her turn in line to pick up her mother’s prescription. She shifted on her high heels. Funny, my feet are hurting me more now than they used to, she mused as she idly watched a heavy middle-aged woman use a cane to hobble up to the pharmacy clerk.
       “Sure takes a while to get served,” commented the woman in front of her in a lilting Jamaican accent. “Used to be they had more help. Guess that’s true everywhere. Like at the bank.”
       “You’re right about that,” said Louella. “Plus look at how we’re the ones who have to pump the gas these days.”
       “And be our own bank tellers at the ATM,” the woman replied.
       They both laughed. A white-haired man with hunched shoulders wheezed in agreement, and caught a display case of Rogaine to steady himself. “I know I shouldn’t laugh,” he gasped. “But you have to laugh, or else you’d cry.”
       Sobered, Louella looked away, balancing on one foot to relieve the pain in the other. You don’t suppose this is some sign of getting old? she wondered. I’m only 38! Maybe I should check out the Dr. Scholl’s stuff.
       “I wish this line would move faster!” said the Jamaican woman. “I have to pick my child up from daycare, and if I’m late they fine me ten dollars for every five minutes!”
       “That’s awful!” said Louella. “Can they do that? I mean, it doesn’t sound legal!”
       “Oh, it’s legal all right,” said the woman, jaw set. “Everything’s legal in this country if you write it up right.”
       They were distracted by an outburst from the woman with the cane. “You’re out of your mind!” she was saying to the clerk. “I can’t pay two hundred dollars for that medicine! Look, I have prescription coverage on my health plan! Did it go through?”
       “Oh, it went through all right,” soothed the clerk. “But your policy doesn’t cover this medication because there’s another one available that’s less expensive.”
       “Yeah, I know. But it gives me stomach cramps. The doctor gave me a sample of this, and it worked a lot better, with no side effects. You mean I can’t have this?”
       “Not unless you can pay for it,” said the clerk. “I’m sorry.”
       “Thanks for nothing!” said the woman, storming away. The clerk shrugged helplessly. “Next?”
       The Jamaican woman’s transaction was quick, and then Louella approached the clerk. “I’m here to pick up a prescription for my mother, Lillian Pryzbylewski.” The clerk flipped through an alphabetically organized bin and pulled out a prescription bag.
       “That’ll be five hundred thirty-two dollars,” she said.
       “What?!” exclaimed Louella. “That can’t be right!”
       “I’m sorry, but it is. Does your mother have some kind of supplemental insurance to her Medicare? Something to cover prescriptions?”
       “No,” said Louella weakly. “I had no idea medicine could cost this much. It’s only one month’s supply! Oh, my God! And she really needs this—!” She grappled blindly for her purse. This could ruin us! she thought.



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This story was published on May 2, 2001.