Thankfully, most Americans do not need to worry about the price of medication, except for the occasional bottle of aspirin. However, those with diabetes live in a whole other world. For some, they must spend $1,000 or more a month for their insulin. That’s when this couple decided to step up and help, by crossing the border into Mexico…
$3,700 VS $600
Jake and Marqui Balle, live in Utah with their son, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes. For years, the Balles heard that insulin prices in Mexico were far lower, for a variety of reasons. Namely, Mexico has far fewer regulations, and “the health system is simpler, there aren’t as many organizations trying to buy drugs, so [pharmacies] can exert greater purchasing power and that can lower costs…the average cost of an eligible drug in the US is over $4,500 per month and is 40-60% less in Mexico,” said Travis Tolley, PEHP clinical services director.
So, when Marqui when to Los Angeles on a trip, she decided to head down to Tijuana, Mexico. After all, it was less than a three-hour drive away. What she found shocked her. In Mexico, a three-month supply of insulin, which would typically cost her family $3,700, only cost $600! Afterward, she knew that it was the only way to go.
Finding Out Another Way
You can only imagine the enormous relief the Balle family felt after they began purchasing insulin from Mexico. The medicine is their latest expense, after their mortgage. “It’s a major cost, but it comes first for us because, without it, our son would die. It’s heart-wrenching to know there are families out there who can’t even afford the insurance deductible,” Jake said. Thankfully, things were about to get even better. After talking with one of his customers, Eric Threlkeld, about the process, Threlkeld informed him that he regularly flew to Mexico for business!
A truly good soul, Threlkeld offered to pick up the insulin the Balles needed. Soon enough, he was helping other families as well. “We bought 36 insulin pens for about $16 each, and when I gave them to Jake, he said he wanted to share them with some other families,” Threlkeld said. “That’s when we found out how great the need was out there. Erica [hiw wife] and I decided then to help do something about it.”
Is It Safe?
Of course, many of you are likely wondering: is buying Mexico legal and safe? The answer is yes! In fact, almost 1 million Americans go to Mexico for prescription drugs every year. “The general understanding is you can bring up to a 90-day supply of a prescription from overseas, even though it’s a technical violation,” said Nathan Cortez, a law professor at Southern Methodist University.
Still, due to the relaxed regulations in Mexico, there’s a far greater chance of purchasing knock-off prescriptions. Those that cross the border to buy insulin and other drugs research heavily before going and know how to spot fakes. However, even with these issues, many think the savings are worth the extra homework.
“We get so accustomed in the United States to thinking that health care has to be difficult and so expensive that people don’t even consider the fact that it could be so much easier and less expensive in other places,” said Lija Greenseid, the mother of a diabetic daughter. She also has Threlkeld purchase insulin for her. “In fact, that is the case in most countries.”