Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Is Everything So Fucking Hard? the Sequel

This isn't me, but it might as well be.
When you have a chronic illness, the little things tend to pile up. So many had piled up that it was starting to nag at me, so I made a list and started working my way through it.

The first couple of things went smoothly - pay a bill, order more electrodes for my magic space tiara. The next thing - not so much. I called a doctor to ask them to call in a refill for my prescription, but since the doctor is on vacation I have to have the pharmacy call them. They can't call the pharmacy. Because.

I figured I'd walk over to the pharmacy later and ask them to call.

Then it was time to make an opthomologist appointment. The vision in one of my eyes has been a wee bit blurry, so it's kinda urgent. Good thing I already tracked down a conveniently located doc who takes my insurance.

So I called. Apparently, it's a big office with lots of doctors and "patient service specialists" who will take my call as soon as one becomes available. After a 5 minute wait, one does and then transfers me to billing to find out if the doctor (who is listed on my insurance company's website) actually is in network.

I got someone's voicemail in Billing, so I pressed 0 to talk to someone else. And the fancy, sophisticated phone system hung up on me.

So I called back. Waited only 3 minutes this time. Asked again about the insurance issue and the patient service specialist hung up on me when they tried to put me on hold or transfer me back to billing.

Because there was no fucking way I was going to start researching a new doctor at this point, I called back. Told them I'd been hung up on twice, so let's not do that again. The patient service specialist knew that the office took my insurance, but she wasn't sure about the doctor I'd asked about. She put me on hold for realsies, and came back to tell me that the doc does take my insurance and has an open appointment in 3 weeks. 

By then, my eye will either be better or really bad. I briefly considered traveling more than an hour to see my old opthomologist who usually has same day appointments. Then I asked if another doc in the practice had a sooner appointment. So now I only have to wait a week and a half.

By then I was starting to have a stabbing pain in my non-blurry eye - thanks for the migraine patient service specialists.

It then occurred to me that I could call the pharmacy and ask them to call the doctor's office instead of doing it in person. These are migraine rescue meds that only sort of help, but it's better than nothing.

So I call. And listen to an automated message about flu shots and immunizations and get very close to screaming in frustration because I actually need to get going to To Do list-related appointment. I finally get a pharmacy tech and ask her to call. She puts me on hold to deal with an in-store customer, and I have to repeat the whole thing when she gets back. Which is only annoying because I'm in pain. I loathe having to repeat myself when I have a migraine because the sound (and vibration) of my own voice hurts.

She informs me that I actually have refills on an earlier prescription for the same meds that I didn't know about. Rx#1 is for 18 pills a month - my insurance will pay for 12, which is fine, so she tries to process a refill. But she can't because the insurance will only pay for 12 a month and I just got 6 pills a couple of weeks ago. Because Rx#2 was for 30 pills. Not 30 pills a month, but 30. So they gave me 12 pills a month for 2 months, then gave me the 6 as a partial refill. For which I paid a $60 co-pay.

Still with me?

So my insurance will pay for 6 pills against Rx#1, but I'll have to pay another $60 co-pay. Because that's how co-pays work. This enrages me because it would've been cheaper to refill Rx#1 in the first place instead of getting half a month's supply from Rx#2. But I was completely unaware that I had refills left on Rx#1 and they completely overlooked that fact when I asked them why I only had a partial refill coming to me. So now if I want my pills, I have to pay $120 for 12 lousy pills instead of the $60 I have to pay every other time.

The insurance company, of course, is paying based on the actual cost of the pills. So they don't have to pay extra.

The pharmacy tech kept trying to explain to me how co-pays work, which I already know, but refused to answer me when I asked what the insurance company would do to them if they didn't charge me that second $60. The right answer, of course, is nothing, madam and in the interest of keeping your business we'll just waive that second co-pay. The answer I got was another explanation of how co-pays work and a, "so what do you want to do?"

By this point, I was definitely getting a migraine, thereby requiring me to take my last pill, so I told her I'd pay the 60 fucking dollars for the refill.

Now, my old rescue meds (which I'm also still getting because 12 pills a month doesn't cut it when I have almost daily migraines) cost about $2 a pill. I used to pay for them out of pocket to get around the insurance company's limit of 8 pills a month. This new medicine works slightly better, but costs something like $30 a pill, so I can't afford to go rogue and just pay for them.

For that kind of money, they should actually stop my migraines instead of just making them not so bad. I suspect they might work better if the dosage were higher since standard dosage is based on an 150-pound person and I weigh quite a bit more than that. But my doctor refuses to have that conversation. The first time I brought up the subject, he told me to lose weight. Which is so totally easy when you're in daily pain. The second time, he told me that you don't want to take too much of any medicine. which yeah fine, but you don't want to take too little either. Maybe third time's the charm. It only took me 2 visits to get him to prescribe the magic space tiara, so there's hope.

In contrast, the appointment I had was with a banker to rollover a wee amount of money into my Rollover IRA. I was the laziest nightmare client. Here's a statement from the old account that's over 6 months old, and BTW it's under my maiden name. And I opened up the IRA at a different branch, so it's assigned to some other guy I've never met.

But for a lousy $700 (I didn't work at that job long), they made it work. Changed the person assigned to the account, called the 401k people to get the paperwork started and figured out how to get the money into the account even though they're under different names. The banker even offered to help me do the paperwork when the 401k company e-mailed it to me, but it was super easy and only a couple of pages.

So, take my money and destroy the economy with it? They're all over that shit. Take my money in exchange for goods and services? They don't want to (or can't) make it easy.

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