We all know the American medical system is not working anymore—if it ever did. Basic healthcare is difficult for many to afford and some folks have to go without other needs just to pay for medications. So if we can’t depend on our healthcare system, who can we depend on?
For the Balle family of Clinton, Utah, it’s their neighbors. Jake and Marqui Balle spend most of their money to provide their son Reid with insulin for his Type 1 diabetes. When Eric and Erica Threlkeld heard the Balle family’s plight, they simply offered to get Reid’s insulin in Mexico, where it’s much cheaper. Two years later, the Threlkelds have started a foundation to help others who are affected by skyrocketing prescription drug prices.
In America, Reid Balle’s lifesaving insulin costs $550 a month for five vials. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 18 months old, Reid needs insulin every hour around the clock. It’s delivered to his system through a small pump attached to his abdomen. There is no cure, and Reid will need insulin for the rest of his life.
“It’s a major cost, but it comes first for us because without it, our son would die,” said Jake Balle, 33, who works as a real estate agent. “It’s heart-wrenching to know there are families out there who can’t even afford the insurance deductible.”
In December 2018, Balle was talking about the high cost of Reid’s insulin pens to Eric Threlkeld, 31, a technical engineer who had hired Balle as his real estate agent. At the time, Threlkeld was working on building a factory in Mexico, and he said it would be no problem at all for him to get Reid’s medication there.
“He came home with six or seven and paid only $13 each for them,” Balle said. “Here, they 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.”
Eric and Erica went back to Mexico in January to buy more insulin for Reid. This time, they bought 36 insulin pens. Jake said he knew other families who needed them, and he wanted to help those families out by sharing the insulin with them.
“That’s when we found out how great the need was out there. Erica and I decided then to help do something about it,” Threlkeld said.
The Threlkelds eventually started a nonprofit, Medic(a)tion Found(a)tion, to help people who have been affected by high prescription medication costs. The ultimate goal of the foundation is to have volunteers make trips to Mexico at least every other month to get affordable insulin and other medications for those who need it.
“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,” said Erica Threlkeld.
“People are desperate for insulin at a low cost—there are horror stories about people dangerously reducing the amount they use to save money or having to decide between insulin and paying the mortgage,” she explained. “Making a quick trip to Mexico every few months is a simple thing that we can do, and I’m happy to do it.”
“People in our country are being held hostage over the high price of insulin and other medications,” Eric added. “If nothing else, we’re hoping that by starting the foundation, we’ll be bringing some awareness for change.”
The Balles and other familes are grateful for the Threlkeld’s help.
“Eric and Erica have found a real need and will now be going out of their way to ease the pain for lots of families,” said Jake.