Adventures in Health Care

So, I’ve got this great deal from the State Department, called ASPE. It is medical evacuation insurance, and then in principle they will pay for prescriptions to be sent to me from the US. However, it is set up to use international mail, because most Fulbright grantees are in places like Germany or Britain where a letter will get to you no problem. They aren’t used to using the diplomatic pouch. Getting them to agree to use the diplomatic pouch was a pain. I sent my prescriptions to them at the beginning of August, and I didn’t even get a first refusal to ship through the pouch until the day I arrived here, August 29th. I responded at once with an email from the Public Affairs Officer authorizing pouch use for first-class mail up to two pounds (which is authorized in the general instructions sent by the post to grantees, which I forwarded to them, but which they were apparently unable to read). They responded that the prescriptions were processed the 4th. Here it is the 7th, I couldn’t reasonably expect that they would be here yet, and I am almost out of the month’s supply I brought with me.

So, this morning, I sortied forth to the pharmacy on the corner to buy two prescription drugs. These are both very common medications in the US, in both cases the cost of a 30-day supply is less than my copay, that is, I pay for them directly. They actually cost less than some of then non-prescription drugs I buy.  One of the drugs the guys at the corner store had in stock, and the price was quite reasonable. I should say that it was the drug that treats the more serious condition of the two, so it is good that it is widely available here. The other drug though, they fiddled about, they got out their cell phones and Googled it, they dug out an old dusty reference book, finally they found the equivalent French drug in their system (I already knew the name, having done the googling beforehand, but of course the poor white guy doesn’t know anything). Regrets, they do not stock it. Maybe I could try the big fancy pharmacy downtown?

Djibi showed up around noon, and so on the way to take care of the damn cell phone issue, we went to the nice pharmacy. “Sorry”, they said, “we have drugs to treat that condition, but not the one you have. Before we can give you a substitute, you need a prescription. There is a doctor’s office across the street,” they offered helpfully. I’m used to this drug, thanks. We tried another pharmacy, still no luck, but there they told us that the pharmacy at the hospital has to have this stuff. So after failing to get the cell phone (again), we tooled off to the hospital. There sure are a lot of sick people in this town. I stood in line with a bunch of them, waiting for a nice but very harassed young man to attend to me. He went and got the stuff. It costs about three times what it costs at home. While I was there, I also found dental floss – since my little WaterPic won’t work with local current – and Listerine (at $12 a bottle). So here’s the fruits of my expedition.


And Djibi called and said he’s on his way with my cell phone. Insh’allah.

There is a nice plate of chicken yassa waiting in the refrigerator for us to share, anyway.

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