Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The good guys don’t always wear white

Just exactly when our society changed from being a caring and fair one to the dog eat bitch free-for-all that it now seems to be, I don’t really know. I guess it was one of those things that ate away at us rather like the increasing sea levels around Tuvalu. The difference being that the water levels might not have originated from man’s inhumanity to man – although there is a body of opinion that might say otherwise to that as well of course.

In any event there are times when it seems that as a species we have descended to a level comparable with the bowels of Satan.

People seem hell-bent on looking after ‘number one’ even when number one by his/her behaviour would be more appropriately described as a pile of number two.

The latest scam to get my undies in a tangle is another example I have come across of a money-grubbing business taking advantage of someone who is less able to fight back.

This sad story begins with an innocent enough exercise of me paying a bill. The bill in questions was for expenses incurred by my elderly father who is currently in a rest home with dementia. The rest home in question is a very good place and like most such establishments they run a ‘care account’ for their residents. 
This is basically a kitty into which I put money to take care of any incidental little expense he might have throughout the month. They have a little shop there where he occasionally buys sweets and they also use the account to cover such things as extraordinary expenditure that he might have to meet.

One such expense that falls under this category is payment for non-subsidised medicines or other pharmaceuticals that he might be getting.

In my Dad’s case his latest reconciliation had some entries described as Non SS Meds: Fish Oil Tabs. I realised what these were of course and would not normally have taken any further notice of them were it not for the fact that there seemed to be an awful lot of them.

There was an entry on 30 November for them – cost $11.10, then another on 6 December – same cost again and then further entries on 3, 24 and 31 January. In all there were 5 lots of fish oil tabs charged out over a period of 62 days for a total cost of $54.00. My first thought was, ‘Why did he need 1000 fish oil tablets – that would be 200 per week.”

So I rang the rest home and asked them to explain. They assured me the charges were correct and had been sent to them by Pharmacy Services as they were non-subsidised and were being dispensed along with the rest of his subsidised medication and put into those cute little bubble packs. I asked why he would need 200 of these a week but they assured me he was only being given one each day and referred me on to Pharmacy Services.

I then rang Pharmacy Services and asked them why my father was being charged for 200 fish oil tabs per week and they told me he was not and that he was only being given 28 every four weeks. I challenged this because at $11.10 for 28 tablets I felt there must have been some sort of mistake as the price indicated that he was being given 200 each time.

The woman I spoke to was adamant that the charges were correct so I did a couple of quick calculations. I knew that he was being given 1000mg tablets and I also knew that a tub of 200 of these was regularly available via the supermarket for $9.99 and yet these people were charging him $11.10 for just 28 tablets.
I said to the Pharmacist that it seemed to be a pretty steep price and how could they possibly justify charging more for 28 tabs than what I would pay for 200. At that point she came over very condescending and explained to me that everybody has to make a living and she was sure that i would not want to work for nothing and that they put these tablets into the bubble packs with his medicine and so they had to charge something for the effort of doing that.

Needless to say I was neither impressed to be spoken to like a little child nor convinced about her argument. I already knew that he was paying a premium along with his prescription charges to have all of his medications put into the pack so why was there a need to charge a premium on the item as well. After all we are not talking about a small extra charge here. My sums tell me that fish oil tablets from the supermarket cost a whisker under 5 cents each and yet these ones which were exactly the same were costing a little under 40 cents each – in other words they were 800 percent dearer.

As you might expect I was unable to convince the Pharmacy that they were a bunch of low down scumsuckers taking advantage of old folks because they could, so the upshot is I told them to leave the bloody things out and we would supply his fish oil tablets in future. The rest home was quite relaxed about my new arrangement and we might all now live happily ever after. Yeah right until the next chancer (or as my spellchecker suggested here, chancre) comes along.

Anyway ladies and gentlemen the moral of this little epistle is: if you have responsibility for the care and welfare of an old person and especially if that person is near and dear to you; leave nothing to chance. If they are sent a bill for anything at all make sure you check it to see (a) if they actually were supplied with it, (b) did they really want or need it, and (c) have they been charged the correct amount for it.

You would be surprised to see how many lowlifes there are out there who think nothing of ripping old people off and many of them wear nice white smocks or flash suits and have shining white-toothed smiles. Beware and be ready for the b swines. 

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