Healthcare costs a lot more than $12 per year, and is projected to increase another 5.4% this year. Obamacare has slowed the rate of increase, but many are still struggling with huge deductibles, high copays, coverage gaps, and geographical barriers like states that don’t participate in subsidies or only have in-network hospitals in one part of a state. Making matters worse is the uncertainty about whether the federal government will stick to their promises or intentionally implode the marketplace and then blame somebody else. In effect, killing Peter to pay Paul.
While some people still suffer awaiting a better solution, others are trying to help, like dauntless protesters, generous donors, and the drug company voluntarily capping their own price increases. In the meantime, some choose to make due with dangerous methods like depending on self-diagnosis and over-the-counter veterinary medicines.
Full disclosure: my other job is in a drugstore. Over the years, I’ve seen too many people trying to avoid bankruptcy by patching up problems with slapdash and dangerous methods like supergluing their own wounds shut and taking fish tank amoxicillin for their own infections.
Boing Boing reminded me of the fish tank amoxicillin method when they pointed out the sarcastic and depressing reviews for an Amazon listing (since removed) for 500mg amoxicillin capsules intended for fish but often used by humans.
To make something absolutely clear, it is absurdly dangerous to take amoxicillin for an infection requiring a different antibiotic. I’ve most often heard of our patients using fish tank antibiotics for bladder infections, and it’s important to note many bladder infections will not respond to amoxicillin and will spread to the kidneys, possibly leading to kidney failure or death.
Unfortunately, when someone who lives nowhere near a free clinic and has high out-of-pocket costs is looking at the options of bankrupting their family, destroying their credit, or taking their chances with a twenty or forty dollar bottle of fish medicine, you can guess which option many will reluctantly choose.
Some of those people left reviews on these fish tank products, giving us a glimpse at just how grave our healthcare situation is. Here are some of the reviews for this removed product:
“My fish started work at a new job and his insurance hadn’t kicked in yet. Well, of course, my fish got a bad case of bronchitis or something like that. Nevertheless, we decided to get him some meds and boom! Within 2 days he was all new again and just kept swimming!”
“My fish have been sick for two weeks straight and having trouble sleeping at night. I finally figured out that the fish have a bad sinus infection and swollen glands. After just a few hours the swelling is gone and my fish can breath again. They were even outside all day building a shed and didn’t feel sick at all.”
That product may no longer be available, but many others are still around. Here’s one:
Pictured: antibiotics for fish
This one also had many sarcastic reviews:
“Affordable antibiotics for people with alot of… fish.”
“This stuff worked great for my fish’s toothache!”
“Great alternative to racking up debt at the fish hospital — My fish came down with a nasty case of bronchitis and sinusitis just before Christmas, but her health insurance doesn’t kick in until the first of the year. So she couldn’t go to a fish doctor because she only makes minimum wage at the aquarium, and a trip to the fish emergency room would have put her in debt so far she wouldn’t be able to get out. So she tapped on the edge of her tank with her sick little fin and blew bubbles in Morse code to ask me to order these for her. They worked great! She is now bronchitis and sinusitis-free, and she only had to miss one day of work at the aquarium. She thanked me in bubble Morse code, and said she would use them only when absolutely necessary, in order to avoid creating superfishbugs.”
Seriously though. Don’t do this.