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Judge H. Lee Sarokin

Judge H. Lee Sarokin

Posted: August 25, 2009 03:20 PM

The Real Health Care Problem: Packaging


Some may say that the public option's costs and financing are the profound issues of health care today, but I believe the real problem is packaging (and I am not talking about environmental impact)! I get the sniffles and my eyes tear. Why? I know not. But recently at the pharmacy next to my regular name-brand allergy medicine was the store's own generic pills and much cheaper. I rushed home thrilled and proud of the $4 saving and spent a sleepless night waiting to pop that "same pill but for less money."

I trembled opening the box (not a bottle with a safety cap that only the Incredible Hulk can open) to find rows of the tiniest pills I had ever seen, all individually wrapped in silver foil with perforations to separate them. Once a pill was removed from its family, it could be accessed by finding the only corner where the foil could be peeled away from the pill in order to punch it out and free it.

Finding the corner did not necessarily do the job. Getting the foil started took the most surgical placing of the fingernail. After about 10 tries and close to 10 minutes I was on my way to easy breathing for the day. But although I had saved money, the repeated effort for days had been so intense and aggravating that I soon found myself needing high-blood pressure medication. But I am not a fool. I had learned my lesson. I resolved to purchase a new pair of scissors to cut the edges on the allergy pills, so that I could get on with the task more efficiently and avoid the aggravation.

Alas, the scissors I purchased came wrapped in unbreakable plastic. My old scissors could not cut the plastic. A box cutter just crumbled when it met its match. I tried a hammer, but it only broke the (unbreakable) counter top but left the plastic cover in tact. I finally broke through the plastic with an electric drill, but of course, cut my fingers trying to pull the plastic apart. Now I am going away for a few days to relax, but I know the first few hours of my flight I will spend trying to open one of those tiny bags of peanuts.