Bill to make health care more inefficient

Dear Editor,

As the reality of the new healthcare bill starts to hit America, I am shocked at the upcoming changes in 2010 to the Flexible Spending Account, most notably the ones regarding the purchase of over-the-counter drugs.

The new healthcare bill now requires all OTC drugs to have a prescription from your doctor and cash payment at purchase! No more paying by swiping a card that takes it from your flexible spending account!

Let’s say your child has a cough and you would like a $3 bottle of cough syrup.

You first must get on the phone probably with an answering machine for the nurse at your child’s doctor’s office.

After waiting, perhaps for several hours, they return your call and you explain you need a prescription for your child to purchase an over-the-counter syrup.

Now they have to take your information and find a time to talk to the doctor about this.

Of course some doctors don’t write prescriptions unless they see you, so be prepared for an office visit, where the waiting room may be full of sick patients. And bring money for that nasty co-pay, which can be $20 or more!

If you are lucky, your doctor will issue you a prescription without a visit. But how do you get that? Will they mail it to you (spending office time and 44 cents for postage) and date it today so you can go on out and buy the item, or will you have to rush over and get it in person?

Or, do they phone it in to your pharmacist as they handle all of your other prescriptions?

Somehow you must have a written prescription in hand because after making your $3 cough syrup cash purchase you must now sit down and find an envelope, fill out reimbursement paperwork required by your FSA manager, include your receipt and prescription in your 44 cent posted envelope and sit back and wait for your check, which will be handled by someone who must then spend their office time cutting a $3 check to be sent to you in their 44 cent stamped envelope! Whew!

Some over-the-counter items will still be processed the way they have always been, contact solution, first aid supplies, etc. But to have to call the doctor when you have an itch from a bug bite, the sniffles from an allergy attack, or your hemorrhoids are acting up? Please!

I’d take an aspirin for my headache, but I don’t think I want to go through all of the steps to get its cost reimbursed — which is probably the government’s plan all along!

Linda Wurstner

Helena