Opinion: Receiving medications by mail isn’t just convenient, it’s crucial to my health.
Like most Americans, I use the postal service to send birthday cards, receive online shopping purchases, and send holiday gifts. I also rely on the USPS to receive my prescription medications.
I’m 28, disabled, and I need the United States Postal Service.
I first became chronically ill at 17 and have been diagnosed with a laundry list of medical conditions since. I now rely on numerous prescription medications to manage my illnesses—and will likely need them for the rest of my life.
Prescription delivery crucial during a pandemic
The USPS currently delivers most of my medications. My medications are all on different schedules, which has led to numerous trips to the pharmacy every month. Receiving my medications on time in my mailbox and minimizing my trips to the pharmacy is such a relief. Managing my appointments at six different specialists’ offices, labs, tests, and medical bills can feel overwhelming and burdensome, and I am grateful to the USPS for helping take another healthcare-related task off my plate.
Not only is receiving my medications by mail convenient, it is currently crucial to my health. I am immunocompromised and take immunosuppressants to manage lupus and chronic kidney disease. This means I have a weakened immune system and my body is less able to fight off infections and diseases. During the current Covid-19 pandemic, I am at higher risk of getting severely sick from the coronavirus. Receiving my medications by mail limits my forced exposure to other people and reduces my chances of becoming sick and thus burdening our health care system during the pandemic.
Pharmacy costs add up
Additionally, I save a great deal of money when the postal service delivers my medications. My pharmacy benefits manager charges a penalty fee of $20 if I fill a long-term medication at an in-person pharmacy. A $20 fee each time a prescription is filled quickly adds up to thousands of dollars a year for me—In 2020 I will spend over $10,000 out of pocket on health care costs.
These out-of-pocket costs can’t be applied to a deductible or my out-of-pocket maximum. During the current financial crisis, these fees could send many Americans over their financial cliff.
An institution older than the Constitution
Since the days of the Continental Congress, well before the establishment of our Constitution and its inclusion in our founding document, the postal service has been an integral and essential part of America. Under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy drastic changes to the USPS, including eliminating overtime for mail carriers, dismantling mail-sorting machines, reducing post office hours, and removing postal boxes have been made.
DeJoy has no USPS experience, holds an equity stake in a subcontractor for the USPS, and owns stock options in Amazon. At his August 24th hearing before the House of Representatives, DeJoy admitted that he doesn’t even know the cost of a postcard stamp. Watching his questioning, I couldn’t help but tear up. In stating that he didn’t know answers to simple questions about postal operations, he scoffed and laughed at his incompetence.
As someone who receives vital prescriptions through and relies on the service under his control, I was appalled by his cavalier attitude toward his own ineptitude. As Rep. Ayanna Pressley said during this hearing, “the only thing [DeJoy] should be delivering is [his] resignation.”
Funding on hold
The House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill to prevent further changes to Postal Service operations and provide an additional $25 billion to the USPS. This bill now sits on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s desk. I urge people to call their Senators and express their support to prevent changes to and properly fund the post office.
The attacks on the postal service are an attack on all Americans. Chronically ill and disabled people, the elderly, veterans, and other people who receive their medications by mail have been severely impacted by these changes. Lives depend on a robust, efficient Postal Service, and my story is only one of millions.
It is crucial that we continue to fight for the USPS for our fellow Americans. It is up to us to support and defend the United States Postal Service in this difficult moment in our history.