Although, I doubt that the recent swine flu fears will amount to much of anything, I have been asked to write prescriptions for Tamiflu by many people in the last several days. Despite our conversation about how this flu only produced mild symptoms, some people remained very worried and would only feel satisfied if I wrote them a prescription. Those who had private insurance found pharmacies that had this drug in stock, and obtained it. Those who had government insurance required a doctor's authorization prior to approving the coverage of this drug. People could chose to pay full price and still obtain the drug, but few would ever do this. In practical terms, this meant that when someone couldn't get a commonly used anti-viral, I would have to call the insurance agency to argue the necessity of this prescription. By the time I was alerted of this problem, nearly all the pharmacies in NYC ran out of Tamiflu. I was told that even with authorization, the patient would simply not be able to obtain this drug. How is that for an effective government health policy? Welcome to rationing.
I also want to add that these prescriptions were for those individuals who were worried about being recently exposed to the flu and they were for preventive purposes. I have not yet seen widespread flu symptoms in the NYC area.
Again, I would still like to comfort those panicking that the swine flu in US has produced only mild symptoms and there is no need at this time to be any more concerned about this flu than you were about the flu last year. However, I also think that those on Medicaid and Medicare got a really crummy deal in NYC this week. For a detailed description of flu symptoms and pathophysiology, see my post below. Consider this story if you have high expectations regarding government assistance and government management in any field. Whether that field is medicine, banking, automotive, education, or housing.
6 hours ago