Counting the cost of prescription medicines


Taking regular medications is a fact of life for everyone with a chronic illness such as Multiple Sclerosis and for a host of other conditions as well. It is not a hassle, just something you have got to get on with in life.

In my case, Lisa uses a tablet organiser to prepare a week’s worth of doses in advance and then makes sure the correct medications are taken at the right times. That is important as, left to my own devices, sometimes a dose can be forgotten or suddenly I might start wondering if one has been missed. Using her system, my beloved can not only make sure all doses are taken but also put my mind at rest about them.

It was with some trepidation that we visited the health centre here to get our first Spanish prescriptions but it all went quite smoothly using a combination of Spanish and French (thanks to Cray Valley Technical High School in 1960s) as the doctor that day did not speak any English.

Today I took the prescription for both of us to our local pharmacy and waited patiently to hear exactly what we would be charged. Back in Wales all prescriptions are absolutely free to everyone but I knew that in England prescriptions cost £8.05 (10.92€/$11.86) per item.

Not everything was in stock but would be obtained and delivered to our home, the same afternoon. Yes, you did read that right, the same afternoon. Now that is a level of service not available in the UK. There, ‘next day’ would be the best that could be expected.

So, at last, we got to the amount that needed to be paid. The pharmacist said “15 and 46” which, I thought, meant 15€ for one person and 46€ for the other. The credit card was handed over. Not being familiar with prescription charges here, and so expecting the total to be 61€, it was extremely pleasant to find that the total amount to be paid was just 15.46€ (around £11.40 or $16.79).

Thinking back to last year, when we were checking out whether or not we could afford to live in Spain, the loss of free prescriptions was something we had to consider but with such a low monthly cost it really is not an issue and is a fraction of the price we’d be paying for just Lisa’s medicines if we lived in England.

At this stage, we’d both give the Spanish health service an overall A++ award with prescription charges rating A-. That would compare with the NHS at B overall with Welsh free prescriptions at, of course, A++. As far as the English charge, words fail me; it is nothing but a ludicrous tax on being ill.

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