During their working years, Nellie and David McGovern's health care was taken care of. Nellie was an R.N. and David worked as a pipe fitter at a paper company. They were covered through Dave's work. Both were healthy.
As they grew older however, problems developed. David, now 78, had a heart attack in 1995 and needs Pravacal. Nellie, 74, has had to go on various medications, for heart arrhythmia, arthritis, calcium buildup, and high cholesterol. They spend roughly $200 to $300 a month between them. They have no prescription drug coverage.
They are patching their health coverage together through a combination of David's retirement and Medicare. For the McGoverns, the chief problem is that while some of their necessary prescription medications are generic and somewhat affordable, others are brand names, and out of their price range.
Nellie has done some comparison shopping between Canadian prices and the U.S. government's much-touted Medicare card, which takes effect in 2006 and which the Bush administration says makes drugs more available to seniors. For the cholesterol drug alone, "it is three times as cheap in Canada," she says.
"The card is no favor for people," she says.