Answer Lady: August 2009

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Gay Nephews, Sharing Prescriptions

Q. A year ago, my 23-year-old nephew told me he's gay and pleaded with me not to tell his mother, my sister. I'm positive she would be fine with her son's sexuality, but I've stayed mum. Now my sister is upset because her son is acting aloof. I'm sure it's because of the secret he's hiding. Should I tell my sister what's going on?

A. No, you should talk to your nephew! Tell him that his mom is perplexed and sad because she feels a distance has developed between them. Reassure him that your sister can handle the news and will take it in stride. You might ask what exactly has made him so afraid to come out; perhaps you know his mom better than he does and can alleviate his fears. And realistically, is he planning to hide his sexuality from his mother forever? Hey, that's no way to live.

Q. My 77-year-old mother's doctor wrote her a "just in case" prescription for a year's worth of a medication that I take regularly. So far, my mom hasn't needed it and probably won't. Meanwhile, I'm paying $175 a month for pills that would cost her $10 under her insurance. Is there really anything wrong with filling her prescription and using it myself?

A. Why yes, there is, I'm sorry to report. Actually, it's a little faux pas called insurance fraud. I agree with you that the system is unfair, and many of us in the same situation would be sorely tempted to do exactly what you propose. But it's illegal -- not to mention possibly dangerous. If you use the medication and then want a refill, either for yourself or because your mother ends up needing it after all, you'll have to either lie to your mom's doctor about her use of the drug or fess up that you took it. A better idea would be to speak to your own physician about whether there's a way to adjust your prescription so you can economize. (Have I talked you out of it? If not, I don't want to know.)

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, August 2009.

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