With Drugs, How Do We Balance Medical Value and Cost?

How much should your medicine cost?

A physician colleague recently told me the story of a patient who asked if she could put off taking her medication until the end of the month, after she received her paycheck. The price had risen and she didn’t have the money to pay for it along with her other bills. Unsure how to respond, he gave her $20 to cover part of the cost.

Then, he didn’t hear from her for months.

She missed appointments, she wouldn’t answer his calls. When she finally resurfaced, he asked why she hadn’t come back to the clinic. She was embarrassed, she said, because she couldn’t pay him back — until now. She handed him a crisp $20 bill.

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