Prescription burnout.

I’m fortunate. I have access to and participate in medical, dental, and vision insurance through my employer (The Great Spousal Unit is also covered under my plans). It’s not cheap to have this coverage but, for the most part, I’m able to manage the costs. Despite needing to schedule appointments and, you know, actually go to doctor appointments, I’m able to do what I have to do to navigate my way through the healthcare system here in America.

Except when it comes to prescriptions.

Dealing with prescriptions is hard. The reasons for that vary, but they’re mostly related to the number of items I have to keep track of, the fact that they all seem to need to be renewed at different times, and the stupid way my prescription provider operates.

For the record, I get insulin, plus backup insulin, glucagon, a few daily pills I need to take, and test strips through my prescription provider.

Almost all of these, except the glucagon kit and the backup insulin, which I don’t need to renew all the time, are on different rotating 90-day schedules. Meaning, I have to go to my provider’s website and renew my prescription, or my doctor can electronically submit prescriptions to the provider. Though that turned out to be a major hassle with the provider, which I’ll explain farther down the page.

I generally don’t suffer from diabetes burnout, but I do suffer occasionally from prescription burnout. It’s not that I have to renew my prescriptions every 90 days. It’s that I may need to renew one prescription this week, and another in three weeks, and another ten days after that, and another the following week. Keeping track of which script needs to be renewed when takes some doing.

I try to keep track of it on my Outlook calendar at work. That works okay, except when I’m not at work, and as long as the Exchange server doesn’t go down and wipe out everything I carefully scheduled (which happens occasionally).

Then there’s the cost. My provider introduced a huge change in their formulary list this year, which is costing me an additional 1200 dollars during 2014. I don’t even want to go into that.

So there’s the volume of everything that needs to be renewed, and the quirky scheduling of everything, and then there’s this:

When renewing my prescription online, the provider has my credit card information so they can process my order at the time it’s placed. So they have my credit card information on file.

The last time I visited my endocrinologist, she was kind enough to get me new prescriptions for things I had run out of refills for. The best part was (or so I thought), she was able to send the script directly to the provider so they could fill it. Great, right? Ummm, no.

A couple of weeks (or so) goes by, and no prescriptions. Part of the order included my insulin, so I’m starting to worry a bit. I give the provider a call. It turns out they haven’t filled my prescription because they “didn’t get payment yet”.

Me: You have my credit card information on file… what’s the problem?

Prescription provider phone rep: We can’t fill the order without your authorization of payment.

Me: You do it when I renew prescriptions all the time… how is this different?

Prescription provider phone rep: We can’t fill the order without your authorization of payment.

Me: This is a highly inefficient way of doing business. My doctor sends the prescription directly to you, then I have to wait to find out it’s not coming, then I have to call you, then you tell me I have to provide payment when you already have my credit card info on file.

Prescription provider phone rep: We can’t fill the order without your authorization of payment.

Okay, I realize there’s a difference between “providing payment” and “authorization of payment”, but still… why do I have to find this out on my own? Why was I led to believe my prescriptions would be shipped when they weren’t? Why was I not told that they were waiting for my okay before filling my order?

I don’t want to say the provider did this on purpose. I don’t think their purpose was to deny or delay my prescriptions. After all, if they don’t fill a prescription for me, they don’t make money. And that’s where the problem lies.

It’s just my opinion, but it seems to me that prescription providers, more than any other entities providing goods, services, or prescriptions through an insurance plan, are not about the patient at all. Not in any way, shape, or fashion. No… they are purely profit centers, and they operate as such. I don’t think my provider wanted to deny my coverage. I just think they skimped on customer service and expediting orders in an effort to make a few extra bucks. They hired someone to think this all out, but they didn’t pay top dollar, so what they got was a system that doesn’t really work at all.

And they don’t seem to care about it, because, let’s face it… once I’m on their plan, they have me for the entire year. At that point, they don’t have to be nice, or helpful. They just have to squeeze as much money from me as they can. If they have a stupid, inefficient way of doing that, who cares? They know I’ll be back when my next prescription needs to be filled.

I suppose it hasn’t occurred to providers yet that better customer service could help expedite orders, rather than having them sitting in a queue somewhere. More orders, more money, more profit. And I suppose it hasn’t occurred to them yet that a superior level of customer service could have a positive effect on patients, and the plans they’re covered under, which might make their plans more appealing to additional clients in the first place. More orders, more money, more profit. That requires too much forethought, I guess. I wonder if they even know what that word means.

Oh yeah, it’s prescription burnout I’m feeling. Or prescription provider anger. Either way, it’s not healthy. And my provider is perfectly okay with that. As long as I keep coming back for more.

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  • Mary Beth Wyss  On March 12, 2014 at 9:37 am

    I know exactly which provider you’re talking about. I just went through that with them the other day. They HAVE to have my credit card on file to take my order, but then they called me to tell me I had an outstanding balance and they wouldn’t fill the order without payment. “You have my credit card on file . . .”
    My issue is with insulin pump supplies..I do have the luxury of having my provider write me a one year script each time, with 3 refills, so my orders are on auto-ship until the prescription needs renewing. But sometimes that makes it worse because you only have to pay attention to those items once a year, which makes it even worse to keep track of.I find myself opening the shipments and “hiding” items as backup for when the shipment is due (it was due on Monday) and I’m out of supplies and they are still working out the details.


  • Brian  On March 12, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I have a different opinion on doctor vs me sending in the prescription.

    I can never trust that my mail-order prescriptions are filled correctly, so I never let the doctor send the prescription in. I get the paper copy from the doctor, make a copy or scan of the prescription, and then mail it in.

    I don’t want 28 gauge needles – those suckers hurt! If I don’t have a copy of the actual prescription – I can’t argue with them and prove that that the doctor didn’t write ‘give him the cheapest needles you can find in the back room, circa 1982, even if they are huge drill bit sized’. Give me 31 gauge please.


  • fifteenwaitfifteen  On March 12, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Ggggrrrrrrr. Prescription stuff gets my goat, too. I have 3 different places that fill the various diabetes supplies I need (based on cost, I can pick one pharmacy over another for insulin & medications, but then Edgepark does most of the BIG stuff like test strips, pump and CGM supplies), but keeping track of “what is where” and when it’s due for a refill is just the straw that broke the camel’s back sometimes. I hear ya!!


  • Marie Smith  On March 12, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I agree this prescription thing is annoying. One company for insulin, another for pump supplies and another for CGM… Last year my insurance did not cover prescriptions until I met a $3,000 deductible. I left the pharmacy without insulin because I couldn’t afford it. This year it is a lot better, but still annoying.


  • Sara  On March 13, 2014 at 1:25 am

    I had a similar circumstance (or maybe the same circumstance if you are talking about Edgepark). I had my pump supplies on auto-refill and auto-ship. My payment information was on file. Somehow I still had to log in and authorize my payment to receive my supplies.

    Auto = automatic, right? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


    • StephenS  On March 13, 2014 at 6:38 am

      I’m not with Edgepark, but they must have the same order (un)expedition policy in place…


  • Karen  On March 19, 2014 at 8:19 am

    This is completely unacceptable. When my doctor submits a prescription electronically it gets filled – that’s how it should work!! At the very least they should have contacted you to let you know they were waiting for payment. As if you don’t have enough to keep track of. Grrrrrrr


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