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Bill Merrow Deering , New Hampshire

Billy’s Story

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My name is Bill Merrow. I am 75 years old and I live in Deering, New Hampshire. I worked in heavy construction and carpentry most my life. I am on Social Security and receive $1438.00 per month.

While I have been healthy throughout my life, approximately 12 years ago I was diagnosed with Poly Arthritis: Ostio, Rheumatoid, Psoriatic as well as Spinal Stenosis. My doctors had stabilized my condition with Humira and Celebrex. My spine, with two crushed discs, has shifted around 1/4” to 5/16” between two of the discs.

It is recommended that I receive 1 injection a week of Humira. The cost of the Humira for this is approximately $2200 per shot, a $1000 rise in less than 7 years. Until 5 years ago, I was still covered by private insurance and getting the 4 shots, co-pays were minimal. When I lost the private insurance due to divorce, I began using a supplemental provider and no provider will cover Humira due to the cost. Abbott Laboratories Patient Assistants will cover 2/3 of the cost leaving me with 1/4 of the cost which is helpful but still leaves me with a bill of over $2200 per month for two shots; my share, for the recommended treatment which is not viable for me since I receive $1438 Social Security.

My Rheumatologist has cut back my injections to 2 per month which does not stabilize me but does slow the progression. Even this would be at a cost of $2200 per month which would leave very little for my other life needs. Fortunately, my doctor has helped me with this through samples from the pharmaceutical sales people. This helps for the time being but is not sustainable and not everyone in my situation has this opportunity.

I am currently not taking the Celebrex because it has become a generic medicine and my Doctor has not come up with a new prescription for it, although I had asked about being put back on it. It too was covered by private insurance but my provider does not have this in their formulary. I had some help from the pharmaceutical manufacturer but that ended when Celebrex was made generic. As a result I have not taken it for nearly two years.

As a result of not stabilizing my condition over these past 5 years due to finances, my feet and hands are being distorted by arthritis making mobility and the use of my hands very painful. I have had surgery on one foot but still need to have two more toes operated on. I am losing my grip as my hands stiffen. I need to have my spine realigned because of the stress and pain this puts on the nerves there.

Even though I have been healthy, as I have aged clearly I have challenges. Social Security and Medicare may not be perfect, but what would I do without them?