GETTING PRESCRIPTION MEDS ALONG THE WAY
Our trip planning had to start with the main prerequisite – we would have to be 100% certain that we could get Nina’s antiepileptic meds along our route.
I connected with expat communities, had friends and family members around the world check with local pharmacists and I also called pharmacies and hospitals in far off lands along our route to ask for information on how to obtain exact meds Nina needs.
What I’ve learned was that the same meds that cost over $3,000 per month in the US are:
1 – available all along our route,
2 – fairly easily obtainable and are
3 – at least TEN TIMES cheaper anywhere else in the world.
I mapped out that we could get his meds in Argentina, Spain, Serbia/Bosnia, Denmark, Germany, Thailand, Australia, Japan and France for $100-$300 per month. To confirm my research, I just checked with a pharmacy here in Buenos Aires and could have purchased his meds for $330. It turns out that we didn’t need them here after all since we left the States with enough meds for 3+ months. In some other countries, we will need to see doctors to get local prescriptions but that seems pretty straight forward as well. To support these local doc visits, I also obtained a letter from Nina’s neurologist explaining his history and list of medications.
In addition to getting Nina’s meds, we had to consider one more (for us huge) issue.
Three years ago, after being on a waitlist for the first 12 years of Nina’s life and spending more on his medical expenses than what we’ve paid for our house (or better comparison, more than 4yrs of private US college education), Nina finally got a federal waiver to get on Medicaid as his secondary medical insurance. With us leaving the country for this long, he will lose this disability benefit. Once we get back, we’ll have to reapply for Medicaid waiver, and it is not certain how long it will take to receive it again or if he will get it at all.
However, we concluded that he will almost be 17 years old when we return home. If he doesn’t get onto the waiver immediately, we would have little over a year to bridge paying his medial expenses out-of-pocket once again. As soon as he turns 18, he should be back on Medicaid. If he were younger, risking this benefit would not be worth it and that would be a showstopper for this trip.
In addition to getting meds for Nina, I scheduled multiple visits with our GPs to get more meds to cover altitude sickness, diarrhea, malaria, epi pens, and a few more odds and ends.
We now look like a walking pharmacy.