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Kendall Worth: The high cost of over the counter medications

You regular readers of the Nova Scotia Advocate may have seen my recent story, With a little help from my friends, about the need for a companion when you go to the hospital for an emergency or day surgery. What if, like so many low income people, you don’t have a companion, I ask.

As I wrote, I ended up finding Jennie, a friend of mine, to help Darcy out.

Before Darcy went to the hospital however she found the pain she was having started going away slowly on it’s own. She went to the hospital anyway because she felt better to be safe than sorry. 

After the doctors, nurses and other professionals at the hospital ran a few tests on her, the good news is that surgery was not necessary. They told her to go home and take Ibuprofen. They gave her a couple of samples at the hospital to take home with her. 

When she told the doctor that Ibuprofen is an over the counter medication and her pharmacare plan through Income Assistance does not cover over the counter medication. She also told the doctor that she could not afford Ibuprofen. 

Other than giving her a couple of samples to take home, the doctor did not know what to tell her.

So Jennie, who went to the hospital with Darcy, ended up paying for the Ibuprofen out of her own pocket.

When Darcy called me on Thursday,  she told me that she is now feeling better and she is up walking more wish is good news.

However, the thing is that the Pharmacare program through income assistance does not cover over the counter medications. 

Going back to this past story I had written, You should not have to rely on charity just to buy some cleaning supplies, over the counter medications are something else people have to rely on charity for.

For example, I have heard in my community that when people on income assistance are told by doctors to take Tylenol, Advil or cough syrup, for example, Municipal Services caseworkers will say, “No, we cannot cover this stuff because ESIA policies wont allow it.” 

People end up either calling their MLA, or going to a food bank to ask for these over the counter medications. 

Or, in those cases where they fall within the range of the 20% of income assistance recipients, who have friends who care about them, their friends help them out. 

I have also heard in my own community that there have been times when the social worker at the North End Community Health Centre has helped them.

Often, when they tell their doctors and their caseworkers that they cannot afford over the counter meds, they are told that “they should already have this stuff at home”

My response is, “how can they have this stuff at home when they cannot afford it?” 

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