Skip to content

Alexandra N.

Alexandra N.

I’m 67 years old, diabetic, and disabled by bipolar disorder. My income is Social Security, and my health insurance is a Medicare Supplement plan. 

I was first diagnosed as bipolar in my early 20’s. Back then, there wasn’t anything except Lithium to treat the problem, and lithium did not work for me. I managed my life through constant psychotherapy sessions and learned coping skills. I always worked, and managed to put myself through college. I subsequently worked in high tech as a technical writer, although I had constant difficulties because of my disorder. 

As time passed, more drugs became available to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and most of them were at some point prescribed for me. However, as I got older this became more problematic because I developed diabetes and many of the drugs used to treat bipolar raise blood sugar levels dangerously. 

Five years ago I was first given Latuda, a new atypical antipsychotic with less effect on blood sugar. It worked at controlling my symptoms and did not raise my blood sugar too much. The trouble is, this drug is a Tier 5 drug for my insurer, meaning that they only cover 66% of the cost. The drug retails for over $1500 a month. My income is $1978 a month after the cost of living increase on January 1, 2023. 

For the past few years, I  have been taking Latuda because my provider has been giving me samples. To my knowledge quite a few patients have been taking the drug through the samples program. But, as of January 13th, the drug is off patent and is supposed to be available in generic form as lurasidone. Because of this, the manufacturer discontinued samples in December.

The trouble is that the generic drug is not available. The only form that can be prescribed effectively is the brand name drug. I can’t afford to spend $500 a month on a single drug, especially when there are ten more to buy including my diabetes medication and insulin. So I am currently not being treated for the bipolar disorder.

I have been dealing with the health care system in this country my entire life. I’ve done everything I could do. I worked hard to hold down jobs when that was nearly impossible. When the disability finally overwhelmed me I did everything I could to follow all the rules and get care for myself. And in my lifetime we have gone from no treatment at all to drugs that actually work. But what good are the treatments if you can’t get them? It’s all about money, isn’t it?

Help us change the health care system.