This is a cautionary tale for those who believe the future of our medical care as a nation lies in single payer or Obama Care or whatever else you wish to call it. To date in this tale no lives have been threatened, but the slippery slope is clearly defined. Someday lives will be lost and it won't matter whether you call it a death panel or a rationing board or bureaucratic lunacy.
It all began a few weeks before I was to run out of a medication I have been taking daily for several years. My first step was to place a call to the doctor and ask they phone in the prescription to MEDCO. MEDCO is a mail service provider of prescriptions contracted from Blue Cross under a so called “Cadillac” plan for federal employees. Not so fast my patient friend; first I had to make an appointment. Fortunately for me this only took a few days so plenty of medicine left.
Someone from the doctor's office called in the prescription that very day. All is well. A few days later a computer generated phone call from MEDCO told me to call them or they would not be able to fill the prescription. I did so. The MEDCO representative advised that I needed an additional authorization from the doctor. This concept of getting two authorizations still baffles me, but in the spirit of having no choice, I called the doctor's office again.
The doctor's office phoned back to say they had complied with the MEDCO request. All is well. A few days later a computer generated phone call from MEDCO told me to call them or they would not be able to fill the prescription. I did so. The MEDCO representative advised that I needed an additional authorization from my doctor. My response was that this had previously been provided.
After half an hour or so on the phone allegedly speaking with a supervisor, I was advised that the medication would be at my home by the following Wednesday. Complete with apologies, all is well.
A few days AFTER the medication had not arrived, I placed a call to MEDCO. They advised that I needed an additional authorization from the doctor and the prescription was under review by a pharmacist. I, by now having totally lost the ability to control my growing anger, demanded to speak to a supervisor.
The supervisor, who identified herself as Dominique, came on the phone some 15 or 20 minutes into the call. At this point I needed Xanax more than the prescribed medication. She advised that the medication would be at my house the following Tuesday. All is well.
On Monday a computer generated phone call from MEDCO advised that if I failed to call them they could not fill the prescription. By now I was in need of counseling as well as drugs not normally obtained legally.
The first person to whom I spoke after going through several minutes of efforts in getting past the computer voice, advised I needed an additional authority from the doctor. I screamed. She immediately transferred me to a supervisor. After the obligatory 15 minutes of listening to their elevator music, the supervisor came on the line.
This supervisor advised me that it was not actually anything additional from the doctor, but that I needed approval for an over the limit medication. He said they did not have one on file, but would search for an answer and call me back. Please note that none of the other MEDCO representatives had told me this. In fact. I had been promised the medication at least twice.
At this point my blood pressure must have been through the roof. In an act of desperation I phoned Blue Cross, hoping that since they contract with MEDCO and my plan is with them help would be forthcoming. Jennifer was polite and wanted to help. She put me in contact with CAREMARK who seems to be in charge of medications. The lady from CAREMARK, after my continued expression of helplessness agreed to contact MEDCO to tell them that I in fact had an approval for over the limit medication.
MEDCO again, and this time Doug assured me that my medication would arrive next Wednesday. At that point it will have been a month since the process began. I don't know what will happen, but so far every call has begun as if there had been no previous contact with MEDCO. I confess to getting upset. I confess to being less than polite at some point in the process. I confess to having seen Ground Hog Day.
I have been out of the medication for over a week now. (Alive but in some discomfort.) I still don't know why my medication requires so much approval, or why MEDCO chooses to delay filling the prescription, but one can imagine it is expensive. These people have jobs in the private sector. Imagine for just a moment that you have to deal with a bureaucrat in a union. If that thought does not horrify you, . . . you have no children, no relatives, no intelligence or no soul.