Just ranting today

Thursday, July 21, 2016

AAAAAAAgh! I can't stand it!

Moving is such a hassle! One of the things we have to do when moving our residence is make changes to our health insurance and our doctors and pharmacies.

Back in the 90s, I was a patient services manager for the largest mail order pharmacy. Back then it was legal for us to fill prescriptions for Canada, as well as the entire US, including Hawaii. On our slowest day of the year we filled over ten thousand prescriptions. I know how to get stuff done in a pharmacy, and on a grand scale if need be.

So after my move, I noticed a Walgreens just two blocks from my home. How convenient! I first checked to make sure my medication was in stock, they said it was. So, I initiated a transfer of my prescriptions. I waited several days, then went to pick them up. They had not been filled. My prescriptions are for a popular blood pressure medication and injectable testosterone. Both of these are fairly mundane, should be available at any pharmacy. They aren't the least bit rare or uncommon. Neither require refrigeration or special storage. However, they weren't in stock. I had been told they were, but they weren't. The testosterone hadn't even been ordered.

When there is a prescription waiting to be filled and the medication isn't available, it should be ordered IMMEDIATELY. It should not take any special reasoning skills to determine that. If you work in a pharmacy, you should know that medications should be kept there, so you can put them in packages to hand over to customers. That's how pharmacies work, right?

Then there was an ordeal with my insurance. Walgreens said they were out of network and didn't accept my insurance. I assured them that this was not true. They asked me to call my insurance company. I refused, that is their job. I had already called them anyway. I knew that this particular Walgreens (and almost every other Walgreens in the US) is definitely in my network because I had already spoken to my insurance company concerning this.
I told pharmacy staff that they would need to call in order to insure that all the info they needed was obtained. I don't know which numbers they are seeking, and my insurance company would simply advise me to have my pharmacy call them. So, I declined calling them and requested that pharmacy staff call them instead.
They begrudgingly called. Half an hour later, I'm still sitting in the waiting area.
I asked a tech for my insurance card back. I said, "May I have my insurance card back so that I can leave. Your staff can hash this out with my insurance company, and you can call me when the prescription is actually available to be picked up."
The tech turned to the pharmacist and yelled, "Can he leave?"
The pharmacist said yes. The tech turned to me and said, "Sure you can go."

I just looked at her for a moment, speechless. "That's not what I asked. My request was that you hand me back my insurance card so that I could leave, and that you let me know when the prescription is available to pick up."

I did get my card back and I did leave. I did not hear back from Walgreens, so I called and got the prescription numbers to have them transferred to a different pharmacy. Under state law, my testosterone prescription can only be transferred once. There is some grey area in the law in that the transfer usually doesn't count if the prescription isn't actually filled. The testosterone wasn't filled, so they could have gone ahead and transferred it again. They decided to be sticklers and not transfer it.

The new pharmacy (Walmart) chose to not tell me that my prescription wasn't being transferred. Walgreens never mentioned it either. They both simply waited for me to find out on my own. This level of customer service would have been unacceptable and would have gotten me fired when I worked in a pharmacy.

The worst patients are doctors and nurses, it's impossible to arrange flowers to suit a florist, you'll never fix a mechanics car to well enough to suit him or her, I get it. I'm picky because I ran a pharmacy and I'm going to be hard to please.
BUT ITS A PHARMACY! THIS IS ABOUT OUR HEALTH! If you can't fill the Rx, tell the patient because they are waiting on you!

Okay so now I'm waiting to get a new prescription from my doctor.
If this were a narcotic, I'd understand. Testosterone is a schedule 3 for goodness sakes!
I have a verified medical need for this stuff. My T level is checked on a regular basis, blah blah. Okay fine. I wait again.

I'm paying around 700 a month for insurance. Insurance with a network the size of a postage stamp. There is no room for a doctor, therapist, nurse practitioner, or pharmacy in my pint sized network. There is only room for one of those tiny little round bandaids.
...and maybe a gnat ... but only if it lands right on top of the bandaid as there is no room beside it.

So I will have to keep my old doctor, 45 miles away. He's the closest one to me that accepts my insurance. There is no therapist in my area that accepts my insurance. Walgreens doesn't realize that they accept my insurance.

This is just what happens to me all the time with my testosterone: You can't request a refill early because of the insurance. So you have to wait until you are actually out before you can try to get more. Pharmacies often don't stock it, even though it's a totally common medication. They wait until they actually have to fill a prescription before they will even order it. Sometimes they don't even order it then, they wait until you ask them a couple of times. By the time you get it, you've been out for weeks.
It comes in a one mil bottle and a ten mil bottle. Although the ten mil bottle would be more economical and easier on the planet, my insurance will only cover the one mil bottles. This is more expensive for every one, but that's what insurance is all about; $$$$
Sometimes when the pharmacy orders it, they order the 10 mil bottles, wait for me to tell them it's the wrong one, then wait for me to ask them to order the right one, then maybe, finally, if the planets are in line, they'll properly fill the prescription and let me actually pick it up.
I'm suppose to inject this weekly, but I'm lucky if I get 4 injections every 7 to 8 weeks.

Now trying to buy syringes with which to inject the medicine is an entirely new problem. Pharmacies don't like to sell syringes generally. Costco has been the only exception I've found.
What is a pharmacy tech thinking when I've just purchased a medication that must be injected? Maybe I'll need some needles to go with it? It shouldn't take a wild guess to figure that out. The moment I ask for syringes, they begin to treat me like a drug abuser. They start looking down on me. They ask what I need them for. What??????????? I just picked up injectable medication, just a wild guess, but that's probably what I need them for.

They ask how many I'll need. Well I just picked up 4 mils of a medication and we just went over the instructions - inject one mil weekly. Simple math says I'll need 4, but since they are asking, and they already act like I'm an addict, I tell them I need a dozen. If I can get a dozen then I won't have to buy them next time. It saves me one hassle.

They ask if my doctor prescribed them. You do not need a prescription for syringes, at least not in my state. I want to answer with sarcasm, "I don't need really them, I could just drink it instead of all this injecting business. Maybe I could rub it on instead. I could just shove the whole bottle up my butt and use it for a suppository." My doctor prescribed an injectable medicine, it can't be taken any other way, so he intended for me to actually inject it!

They try to sell me insulin syringes which are for subcutaneous injection, testosterone is intramuscular. Pharmacy staff should know the difference. It says right on the box "Inject 1 ml into the muscle once weekly." Not "Inject 1 ml under the skin ..."
Also, insulin syringes don't work with the thick oil in which T is suspended. Insulin is thin, oil is thick. Oil takes a large gauge needle. They work in a pharmacy and should know this stuff. Especially after I've shopped there for a while and explained it several times.

Okay I think I'm done with that now.
Just one last rant:
What is up with spell check on this blog? I hate it when spell check tells you a word is spelled wrong, but won't provide the correct spelling. If you know I don't have it right, then you know what is right. I try 5 or 6 ways of spelling it, only to have that little red line stay stubbornly right under the word. Just give it to me already!
Why keep teasing? The red line mocks me, withholding what it knows.
If spell checker were a human, it would be that irritating bully that grabs your hat right off your head then holds it up high above you while you jump up and down, unable to reach it. If spell checker were human, I'd have no recourse but to rack him right in the nuts, so he'd put his arm down and I could get my hat back.
Unfortunately spell check isn't human. So I have to go to google the word and find out from some other source how to spell it right.
What really chaps my hide is when I had it right all along. It simply wasn't in Spark's data base as a word.

Okay, I feel better now.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    please tell me you copied and pasted this directly into Google review, yelp review and corporate website review for this pharmacy? Give me the happy ending I deserve!
    1674 days ago
    I love your blogs!!! You are emoticon .
    1677 days ago
    Oh, so make me laugh, and I am sorry about your frustration and the insanity of Walgreens, medications, prices, syringes, insurance,'s sincerely INSANE...but I sure saw shades of the old Michael's blogs and it made me laugh! Oh, and don't get me started on spell's one of the stupidest's even given me a correction that ways wrong! And I, too, have to look words up all the time, too! Jeesh!
    I so understand...let me know if you want to get poster board and make signs...I missed all that in the 60s and 70s but there sure is a lot to demonstrate about these days, too!
    1681 days ago
  • no profile photo NONNAGINA02
    I live in Western Washington and my daughter-in-law went through this every time she refilled her prescription at Walgreen's until she finally got fed up enough to switch pharmacies. I understand your frustration, but I love that you kept your sense of humor about it, too.
    1681 days ago
    Welcome to the wonderful world of insurance companies calling the shots for our health care. And it will probably get much worse before it gets better (if it ever does in our lifetimes)...

    Blame the lack of stock on the new methods of inventory control, many stores don't keep things in stock until the item is asked for. I think they are looking to Amazon as a model, when something is sold, order it from the factory...

    As for the syringes - try a farm supply store, they usually have many different sizes in stock, although you may have to buy the syringes and needles separately.

    In re: Spark spell check, you'd think that "cardio" would be in the database since many Spark articles use that word. It must have been recently added to the database as today it didn't flag it. For the longest time, whenever I typed it in, Spark underlined it in red, so there must be some movement in that regard.

    1681 days ago

    Momma said there'd be days like this...

    ....I tried to find the episode 'Drugs and Guns': Becky is a suicidal pharmacist who is overjoyed when a robber breaks into the late-night pharmacy to rob it, and she wants him to kill her.... but it was nowhere to found for viewing. I think you'd appreciate it today... it pops into my mind EVERY.TIME. I have day like you just had.


    1681 days ago
    Health industry is horrible. I worked in the medical field and insurances and pharmacies are a lot to deal with. Best of luck with this matter. ☺
    1681 days ago
  • _LINDA
    emoticon emoticon emoticon

    I feel your pain. I am so fortunate in Canada to not have to worry about insurance hassles. But unfortunately poor customer service is everywhere. I don't think they know the meaning of it any more really. It is most fortunate your medication isn't life threatening if you don't get it right away. I hope they do better with diabetics!! I always have to pre order my perishable drugs, its not something they keep in stock.
    Sparkpeople's spell check data base is small, wonder where they got it from.
    Hope things get sorted out for you. A big box store like Wal Mart may mean you rarely see the same clerk twice and keep getting a hassle with your meds and supplies :-(

    1681 days ago
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