Warning: what follows is not a glowing recommendation. However, no actual names are mentioned in this post, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
My current medical insurance requires that, for the best possible benefit, I order my prescriptions through a mail-order pharmacy. I have had previous plans require this, and while it is not and never will be convenient, it generally works okay with plenty of planning and plotting. So much of having ulcerative colitis seems to revolve around planning and plotting (whether it be meals, pills, or the strategic locations of toilets) that I find it a bit easier than I would have, say, before my diagnosis.
Anyway, so I went to a brand-new gastro, Dr. C, down here in Texas. So far, she’s fantastic: very thorough, very intent and open to discussing my current state of illness, and she wrote me some prescriptions just before I left with the husband for the Christmas holidays. I told her about the mail-order pharmacy – we’ll call them, oh, how about Schmedco – and she said, All right, I’ll write you one for the local pharmacy, and one three-month prescription* for the mail-order that you can put in later, when you run out.
This sounded great to me. So I folded up the three-month scripp and stashed it away for later, and took the one-month scripp to the nearby CVS. Let me point out here that the scripps were written identically APART from the supply amounts requested.
CVS filled the scripps. I got what I had asked Dr. C for: the 50 mg tablet version of azathioprine, and a 750 mg capsule of balsalazide disodium. It was amazing. We had a spontaneous song and dance number around the wine aisle, and then my sweetheart and I jumped in the car and headed up to Minnesota and family for the holidays.
Deedlie-doo to the future: A. and I returned, I started running low on meds, I dug out the three-month scripp, filled out the Schmedco paperwork and mailed it in.
A week or so later: I received the pills in big mailers.
“Yay!” I said.
Then I opened the mailers. My jugs of balsalazide were all present and accounted for, and I set them aside. Then I looked at the other bottle. The label said: Azathioprine (Azasan), 100 mg, take one pill daily!
“Darn!” I said. It was the wrong type of azathioprine. I normally took 2 per day of the 50 mg pills; but maybe I could check with Dr. C and take this instead. They were probably interchangeable, right? I mean, azathioprine is azathioprine, no matter how it’s processed into tablet form. Right?
Then I looked at the bill.
“FUCK,” I said.**
Yes, therein lies the difference! How silly of me not to have considered that the handy one-pill nature of generic Azasan would necessarily cost a nice thirty dollars more!
Now I can hear what you’re saying. Thirty dollars? Bitch, thirty dollars? Just pay it. You’ve got money, right?
Well, no. I don’t have much cash. AND THAT’S NOT THE POINT, ANYWAY.
What’s the point? Well, I called Schmedco. The pharmacist I spoke to said a lot of things, but her main argument she kept returning to was, “The prescription is written for 100 mg a day.”
“Yes,” I said, “but couldn’t that be interpreted in multiple ways? Technically I take 100 mg per day, I just take it in two pills rather than one.”
AND, I added silently while giving the phone the finger (also silently, I think), if you get a prescription where there could be multiple interpretations, wouldn’t it make sense to call the patient and check? Since you have ample ways to contact me? Especially when there’s a considerable (to my poor ass) price difference? AND HEY, isn’t it interesting that I had this filled using my Schmedco card at a local pharmacy, and they managed to interpret the scripp in the 2 – 50 mg/day, CHEAPER way? AND ISN’T IT FUCKING FASCINATING that since you have access to my Schmedco record with all of my Schmedco history, you could have accessed this information and seen that I had previously had a prescription filled this way?
“No,” she replied. “I’m sorry, but that is the only way we will interpret a prescription written this way. That is the only way we can interpret it.”
I choked then. And I said I would have Dr. C send a more specific prescription. And that’s when she asked me if I took the azathioprine only occasionally, for flare ups. #%&@^!$%^!~
Flash forward to today! I got a new scripp faxed in by Dr. C, and I emailed Schmedo, asking them how I could return the unwanted medicine. Yes, laugh, laugh, all of you, at my sweet naivete. Here is their response:
Thank you for your online inquiry. I apologize for any inconvenience
this may cause. Once a medication has been dispensed it cannot be
returned to stock to be re-dispensed. If returned, opened or
unopened, the medication will be destroyed. If you would like to send
this back for disposal you can do so, or you can contact one of our
[pharmacists] to find out how to dispose of the
medication yourself. Since this prescription was filled from a valid
prescription from your physician and was billed in accordance with
your plan, there will be no credit if the medication is returned.
[Fuck you very much],
So. I am pissed. Man, it’s a good thing I have this blog so I can expose those bastards and make them pay for their evil!
In the interest of common sense, A. suggested I just pay for it and keep it on hand for emergencies. I asked if he meant the kind of emergency where I don’t have that vital thirty dollars I needed to pay the cell phone bill, so I miss a call from that institution regarding a life-changing job interview and thus work at my pitiful library technician job for the rest of my days.
“Well, yeah,” he said. And then he got me a cookie. What a nice husband.
In the department of Good News, I heard back about a librarian position. I’ve got an interview scheduled for next week. Wish me luck!
*In case you’re lucky enough to be unfamiliar with mail-order pharmacies, the ones I’ve come into contact with work this way. For example, Schmedco offers you a prescription copay of say, $10 for a month’s worth of a certain drug at a local pharmacy, and then they also offer you a copay of $20 for a three-month’s supply of that same drug, provided you purchase it through their mail-order setup, which is based…somewhere. That’s it.
**This was probably never intended to be a family blog. There’s just too much shit everywhere. But this FUCK is pretty warranted.