For nearly a decade, until his death on New Year’s Day, a retired farmer in Alabama gave a local pharmacy $100 a month for patients who couldn’t afford their medication, unbeknownst to anyone but the store owner.
About 10 years ago, Hody Childress of Geraldine, Alabama, gave pharmacist Brooke Walker a folded $100 bill and told her not to tell anyone where it came from. He returned every month with the same instructions and another $100 bill.
“He said, ‘Don’t tell a soul where the money came from – if they ask, just tell them it’s a blessing from the Lord,'” said Ms. Walker The Washington Post.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, prescription drug prices have risen by an average of nearly 32 percent over the past year, with prices for some drugs skyrocketing by 500 percent.
Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world, with annual costs approaching $1,300 per person per year.
Nearly 40 percent of Americans or their family members postponed medical treatment in the past year because of rising costs, the highest in 22 years, according to a January Gallup poll.
About 83 percent of American adults say the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable, according to a survey by the health policy organization KFF last year. In 2019, the group found that about a quarter of Americans struggle to afford them.
That year, about 3.5 million Americans age 65 and older struggled to afford their prescription drugs, and people of color on Medicare or on lower incomes were more likely to skip them altogether, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
“Mr Childress was a kind, humble man,” Ms Walker told local NBC affiliate WVTM-TV. Tells his family The post that Mr. Childress — an 80-year US Air Force veteran and long-time employee of Lockheed Martin — lived mostly on retirement and Social Security payments.
“Every month, year after year, he would go to the drug store and give me $100,” Ms Walker told WVM-TV. “I kept my word not to tell anyone, not even family. Eventually I started taking a little money here, a little money there just to help people who were struggling.”
Over the years, Ms. Walker said, those $100 bills added up to thousands of dollars for patients without insurance or underinsured clients whose insurance didn’t adequately cover the cost of their medications.
No one in the family knew about his monthly travels, but he revealed his donations to his daughter shortly before his death, she said The Washington Post.
“He told me he carried a $100 bill to the chemist in Geraldine on the first of every month,” Tania Nix told the newspaper. “He just wanted to bless people with it.”
Following his death and the disclosure of his donations, members of the community reached out to his family to say thank you and a “Hody Childress Fund” at the pharmacy will keep the donations alive.