I am unemployed and have no insurance. I ran out of Welchol back in December, but didn't think I could afford to see the doctor and get the prescription filled too for a while.
So I tried controlling it with diet. That didn't work. I tried controlling it with nothing but calcium pills. That didn't work either. I tried Pepto Bismol pills, and even they didn't help a lot (I can't take Imodium because it's so strong one dose will have me constipated and in agony for days).
I just saw the doctor Friday and got my prescription filled Monday. Kroger said that 90 pills was nearly $200, but I had a AAA (yes, the car people) prescription discount card that you can use only if you don't have insurance, and that got it down to $103. Depending on how many pills I need a day (which depends a lot on what I eat, stress levels, etc.) those 90 pills may last me anywhere from a month and a half to three months (my doctor went ahead and gave me a prescription for 3 per day, because sometimes I take three a day, and I like to keep a back up supply in my purse and overnight bag). So, I guess when you look at it, it's not too terrible a price to pay monthly for medicine. It's the only prescription that I'm on right now, plus I still take calcium because it helps my guts some with all the bile (even if it can't stop the bile) and I take a multi-vitamin because Welchol can interfere with the absorption of fat-soluable vitamins, and so it's important to get an extra dose.
I have to say, my guts are feeling SO much better since I got my prescription refilled. Not only am I not having diarrhea, not only am I not having burning bile poops even when they weren't watery, but the random cramps, gurgles, twinges and other weird spasms and the like that my guts would do throughout the day are gone. When I didn't have the Welchol, it was obvious frequently throughout the day that I didn't have it; now that I'm back on it, I am back to living a life like a normal person, not thinking all the time about my guts.
If I were you, I'd buy that prescription out of pocket; I'm not sorry that I did. While imodium is safe to take daily for a month or two, you have to start worrying about taking it longer than that because imodium works by slowing down the action of your intestines. Your intestines can actually get to the point where they don't want to work anymore and you can end up with chronic constipation instead. Someone on here (Lil?) said that's what her doctor thinks happened to her; overuse of imodium caused her guts to stop working on their own. The same thing happens with people who use stimulant laxatives to try and keep from having constipation; their guts get so dependent on the laxative that they will not work at all without it, and they eventually build up an immunity so that you need bigger and bigger doses of laxative to get any action out of them. Eventually they just stop working all together. So, while it's safe to use imoduim to get you through a vacation or some other stressful, public sort of event, I agree that you do not want to take it long-term. And, let's face it, bile from a lack of a gall bladder is a long-term problem.
I sure never found anything to work instead of the Welchol.