Did you see Freeheld? If not, skip it. The ratings weren’t great, and you’ll have to watch a woman die of cancer. It was a downer. The story is important though: It’s about a woman in the U.S. who wants her spouse to be eligible for her pension upon her death. No problem were her spouse male, but her spouse was female, hence the need for a movie. It’s based on a true story from the early 2000s.
We Canadians are so far ahead of the game. I’ve been on Judy’s benefit plan for years without issue, and I would have received her pension had she died before me. Human rights laws in Canada prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and Americans were flocking to our fair land to get hitched for years until marriage became legal in 2015 south of the border.
Which leads us to J.’s retirement, and with it the loss of her benefits. Since I was covered under her plan, I could go to the pharmacy, flash my disarming smile, and leave with a bundle of expensive life-sustaining drugs without paying a cent. My drug plan, which cost me $63.50 monthly, and hers, a minimal deduction on her paycheque, together covered every penny. When we looked at whether we could afford to retire, we included in our calculations my drug expenses without J.’s benefits, which are significant.
In the meantime, J.’s retirement date jumped around a bit before she finalized it. When she told me she’d finalized December 2, I jumped for joy because the bulk of my drugs were eligible for refills that very day, allowing me another three months’ stash for free. Or so I thought.
On November 30, I approached my friendly pharmacist, Colin–we’re on a first-name basis after 15 years together–my list of renewable meds in hand. He informed me, to my dismay, that my calculations were off and I could not renew my prescriptions until December 12.
I was in a panic. I texted J., “I know your retirement party is today, but could you work until December 12 so I can refill all my prescriptions without cost?” Without even considering my request, J. selfishly declined. I was sad to learn I rated so low on her priority list, but I got over it.
I have been putting off seeing Colin, but this week, I will go to the pharmacy and seek those prescription refills. I will run out of my medications over the holiday if I don’t. I still have my drug coverage to soften the blow, but I will have to pay for whatever is not covered. I will include this cost as a medical expense at tax time. It will not bankrupt us, and J. will not be forced back to work.
I remind myself that these drug expenses are a drop in the bucket relative to the medical expenses covered by the government, including, for example, all my doctors’ visits, hospital stays, and 100% of my prohibitively expensive daily chemotherapies.
I may turn to Kijiji to make up the difference. Anyone interested in buying my sugar stash? I have several untouched chocolate bars to spare. Sorry, no wine gums. I can’t even recall the last time I bought them.