On Thursday late afternoon our son who attends college in Vincennes, Indiana, texted to tell me he was out of one of the three drugs he uses to control his seizures. He must take his drugs or he will have a seizure. He told me he had enough to last to Saturday. I called the pharmacy that told me-“Nope-not up for refill for 8 more days. Call your doctor.”
Of course one can’t call the doctor until business opens the next day, so Friday at 8:00am I called his neurologist. Meanwhile, I have my son hunting high and low for apparently 8 days worth of missing pills.
The outgoing message at the neurologist’s office asks you to choose an option: press one for appointments, press two for prescriptions, press three for a nurse and so on. I pressed three for the nurse and got voice mail and left an extensive message detailing our problem. Her outgoing message tells me I will wait up to 48 hours for a reply. Also, ironically, the outgoing message says that if I have a problem with a scrip to call the pharmacy. There is almost always a black hole of bureaucracy between these two entities. I can’t tell you the number of times the pharmacy has told me to call the doctor and the doctor has told me to call the pharmacy.
I wait 20 minutes and call again, this time pressing the buttons to get me to a live human who reassures me that the nurse is there and working her way through the voice mail, and she should get to it at any minute.
At 11:30, I had not heard from her, so I called again, pressing buttons to get me to a human and this time the nurse herself answers the phone. She tells me that she will talk to the doctor and can handle it immediately, and I also ask her to send the scrip to Walgreens in Vincennes. Walgreens is the pharmacy closest to campus.
BTW—she acknowledged that it was the doctor’s office who called in the wrong scrip initially. Our son didn’t lose his pills, he simply was not given enough. “Oops, I’ll send in the correct scrip this time.” The nurse apologized and we told our son to stop hunting for the missing pills.
Now, I pass the task to my husband Geoff. It is his job to call Walgreens and give them our insurance and make arrangements to pay for the drugs that our son needs. He calls me shortly after to tell me its all set. Walgreens helped him set up a special payment account and took our insurance information. “No problem.” he said.
But wait, an hour later he notes on this special payment site that, Walgreens has posted that our insurance will not work with Walgreens and they will charge us $1200 for the 30-day supply. For those of you who do math that is $20 per pill twice a day for 30 days.
So he calls back to the Doctor’s office. Now it is about 2:00pm on Friday. Geoff talks to the nurse again, and she says that she will talk to the doctor again and send in a new scrip to CVS in Vincennes. We wait for confirmation. Nothing comes. Geoff drives to the doctor’s office at 4:30. The nurse is still there, but the doctor is gone for the weekend, and she apparently never asked him to resend the scrip to CVS in Vincennes. She tells Geoff, “He’s driving to Louisville for the weekend. I’ll try to get ahold of him and have him call it in.”
Well nothing comes through. It is 8:00pm. No doctor response at all. The outgoing message on the doctors voicemail says simply to hang up and call 911. We think perhaps we need to go back to Walgreens and pay for 4 pills ($80) to get him through till Monday and then try again on Monday for CVS to fill the full scrip. Perhaps we can get the doctor to call next week?
I call CVS one more time, and after much discussion of the situation, (We have been on the phone with them three times now. They know us well.) the nice lady at CVS reveals that in fact they can call Walgreens and get the scrip from Walgreens. Who knew! At 8:45pm the pharmacist from CVS calls to tell me that not only does he have the scrip ready and waiting for my son to pick up, but there are coupons that can get us a 14 day supply for free and money off on the rest. Who knew!!
The moral of the story. CVS in Vincennes really helped us. I am switching all my scrips there even if they charge more. They came through for me. The pharm tech and the pharmacist were the heroes.
The second moral: The system is really messed up. It took two adults a whole day of head scratching, texting, phone calling and waiting to get doctors, pharmacists and insurance companies to come together to get two weeks worth of little white pills, SO MY SON DOESN’T HAVE A SEIZURE. What happens when a parent who doesn’t have a decent employer who lets her make calls while at work needs to fix something like this? What happens to people who don’t have insurance and need to get meds to stop seizures? What happens to someone who just can’t figure out how to make it work tries to get medicine? It should not be this hard.
Ask me sometime how often stuff like this happens.
Please please someone out there. FIX the HEALTHCARE SYSTEM!!!!