How Much Does This Cost? You Have to Be Joking!

Imagine walking into a bakery to buy a loaf of bread. The scent invades your nose as soon as you enter. You notice that none of the loaves have any prices. There are at least a dozen different types but no prices.

The person checking out has a loaf of whole wheat, and you notice the charge of only $0.79 on the register. That is a great price. You grab a loaf of the whole wheat bread, and get in line.

The person in front of you has a loaf of whole wheat too. But when his purchase appears on the register it is $4.59. That’s strange. The person pays and leaves.

The cashier takes your loaf of bread to scan, and the register shows $28.99. You ask the cashier, “How can it be so much? It was much cheaper for those other customers.”

He responds, “I am sorry sir, this is the price for you. Some customers are on a bread plan. Others have discounted prices based on their employer. Some of our customers actually get their bread for free from a government program. But it looks like your price is $28.99.”

Can this actually happen? You would think in today’s global and competitive marketplace you would not experience this. But this is exactly the system we have for prescription drugs in the United States.

I don’t want to start a political debate, but want to encourage you to think about the consequences of our current system for healthcare. It does not matter if you believe in a free market based system or a government subsidized system. What we have now is a mess and neither of those. Two people can be on the same medication, one paying $20 a month, the other paying $1200. The prices are not market based or subsidized.

Before you respond about the need for companies to recover their development costs, consider this. Other countries are buying the same drug for less. In effect, we are subsidizing the whole world for the development costs of prescription drugs, because companies are able to charge more in the US, than elsewhere.

Whatever your views, I encourage you to think for yourself, not just listen to the political rhetoric. For me, I like to know what bread costs before I pick up a loaf.

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