narky confusion with mail order prescriptions

At the beginning of this year the company that handles the prescription portion of our family medical insurance contacted us. Starting within a couple of weeks—in other words, immediately—it was requiring that all ongoing prescriptions go through the mail order company. After a string of phone calls between the company and my doctors’ offices, the mail order company informed me that they would handle the complete change from local pharmacy to the mail order. No red tape for me. I had three blood pressure medications that were all on the same renewal pattern, and for two years without ever a hitch, my local pharmacy renewed my prescriptions as required. If ever a renewal required discussion with my physician, the pharmacist would handle it. If I needed to see my doctor for renewal, my doctor’s office would contact me. It was as precise as clock work.

When the transition occurred for these three medications, the mail order sent me a refill for three months for two medications and a refill for one month for the third medication. I called them to discuss this. They informed me this: we refilled two prescriptions for three months and one for one month; I said, yes, I know; that is why I am calling. Why has this happened. They said it was because my doctor renewed one drug for only one month and the other two for two months. I tried to explain that it made no sense because all three were blood pressure medications on the same prescription refill sequence. I must have been speaking a different language because each time I asked why this happened, the guy on the other end of the line said, that’s what I am explaining. He kept saying that my doctor refilled my prescriptions that way. Then, he exhaled loudly into the phone so that I could hear that he was exasperated with me.

By the time I finished with that part of the conversation, I completely forgot about the other reason I had called until I hung up. So I called back. The only good that came of the call-back was that the person who handled my second call was much more courteous. The second issue was that in the same mail order came another medication that I had already filled via prescription handled at the local pharmacy for the side effects of the radiation to my esophagus. The mail order company charged me $20 for a three-month supply, which I do not need. Unfortunately, drugs cannot be returned nor refunded, so nothing can be done to correct this order. So, I have not only the rest of the one-month supply of omeprazole, of which I took about seven, and an additional three-month supply. The only advice they could offer was that the next time I get a prescription that would be filled locally, that I should contact Medco to ensure they did not simultaneously fill the same order. The overlap is a glitch because sometimes patients get local prescriptions for new medication while also obtaining a long-term supply through the mail order. The other suggestion they made was that I obtain the written prescription and send it through the mail because the electronic system still has glitches. I guess I will have to decide which is the least of the hassles each time the occasion arises for such confusion.

Maybe the issue is rare, and this confusion will happen never again or only rarely. I know my patience is thin for this kind of nonsense, but I do not think that my expectations are too high for good customer service from a company that deals with patients.

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© 2004–2012 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.


2 responses to “narky confusion with mail order prescriptions

  1. I am so sorry you had to go through all that hoopla. It is an unnecessary PITA to what you are already going through!

  2. Medco is a pain in the patoot. I wish I could reassure you, but the likelihood is that this is the first of many calls you will be making to them (and possibly to their connected company, the one that deals with the more expensive drugs, like my stupid blood thinner).

    I find it a rotten thing that people who are very ill and least able to handle the stresses and complications of having to make multiple calls in order to straighten out bureaucratic red tape tangles are the ones who are required to do so the most often.

    The only advice I can give you is to find out whether the company you get your insurance through (your husband’s employer? yours?) has a representative who can help you with this sort of thing. Or if your main health insurance company has someone willing and able to help out. Or if your GP’s/Onc’s nurse is the sort of dedicated person willing to go out of her/his way to help you. Professionals have a different phone line to call, so they usually don’t have to sit on hold as long as we peons – oops, I mean patients. And their complaints are taken more seriously, as the assumption from the outset is less likely to be ‘this person doesn’t know what she’s talking about’. That doesn’t mean they are more likely to get a straight answer, of course, but every little bit helps…


    good luck…

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