Couple Goes To Mexico To Buy Discounted Prescription Drugs For Families In Need
When they found out how much their neighbors were paying for insulin, they wanted to help.
Eric and Erica Threlkeld have been to Mexico a handful of times in the last few months.
They weren't sitting on sandy white beaches and sipping margaritas, though. They were there to pick up insulin and other prescription drugs at a discounted price for families in their community who need them.
One of those families is the Balles family. They live near the Threlkelds in Clinton, UT. The Balles 7-year-old son Reid was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 18 months old. As a result of his illness, Reid's pancreas makes little to no insulin, so he gets his insulin from injections into a small pump attached to his abdomen.
The Balles family pays $550 per month for insulin for their son Reid (R). Marqui Balle/Facebook
At $550 per month, the cost of Reid's insulin injection "pens" is the family's highest expense, aside from their mortgage. But, since Reid needs the injections to survive, there's no other option.
"It's a major cost, but it comes first for us because without [insulin], our son would die," Reid's father Jake Balle told the Washington Post. "It's heart-wrenching to know there are families out there who can't even afford the insurance deductible."
The family recently got a bit of financial relief when they met the Threlkelds. Eric frequently travels from Utah to Mexico for work, so he told the Balles that he would stop at a pharmacy and pick up some low-cost insulin for them while he was there.
It's a growing trend that people are traveling across the border to get prescription drugs at a fraction of the price they would pay for them in the U.S. In a recent study, the U.S. government estimated that close to 1 million people in California alone cross to Mexico annually for health care, including to buy medications.
The LIQUIS Pharmacy in Algodones, Mexico is a well-known spot for Americans to purchase discounted medications. A Roaming Life/Facebook
Threlkeld was able to find the same brand of insulin pens that the Balles use, "NovoLog" at about a tenth of the cost. He packed the medication in a cooler (needed to keep the drugs below 46 degrees) and boarded a flight back to the U.S.
Eric was able to find the same brand of insulin the Balles use at a tenth of the cost they pay for it in the U.S. Eric Threlkeld/Facebook
"He came home with six or seven [pens] and paid only $13 each for them," Balle said. "Here, [the injection pens] would have cost about $110 each, and our son uses five a month. Besides being extremely grateful, we were stunned at how much cheaper it was."
The Threlkelds, who have 5 children of their own, feel grateful that they don't need any costly medications for their children. By using their frequent flyer miles and a bit of their time, they've been able to provide a service that is desperately needed by families in their community.
The Threlkelds are grateful they don't need to buy expensive prescription drugs for their family - but they want to help others who do. Eric Threlkeld/Facebook
They've even started a non-profit, Medic(a)tion Found(a)tion, to gather donations and inspire others to take their own trips across the border to help others get the medications they need at an affordable price.
"Not everyone is in a financial situation to contribute money, but maybe they have airline miles they aren't using, or they have some free time to make a trip over the border to buy insulin for families in need," Erica said.
While the U.S. has a long way to go in making changes to the national healthcare system that will help everyday people with soaring healthcare costs, the Threlkelds are doing what they can now to make a difference.
The Threlkelds have been getting national attention for their efforts to save families money by buying prescription drugs at a much lower price in Mexico. FOX News
"People in our country are being held hostage over the high price of insulin and other medications," Eric said. "If nothing else, we're hoping that by starting the foundation, we'll be bringing some awareness for change."