A snapshot of life without without "Obamacare".
Come this weekend, and one of my children tries to pick up a
prescription. Said child is told that we don't seem to have any
prescription-drug coverage. This comes as something of a shock as we
also have a serious, chronic illness in our house that requires a number
pf prescriptions for a number of drugs. So, on Tuesday, I begin scaling
phone trees to try and figure out what in the hell was going on in my
life. I call my spiffy new health-care company to ask them. Many buttons
to push. Many automated voices with which to chat. Ten minutes or so on
hold. Finally, a purportedly live person tells me that my prescription
benefits are being handled by... another company. I call Company No. 2.
Many buttons to push. Still more automated voices with whom to chat.
Another 10 minutes on hold. Another purportedly live person tells me
that "there doesn't seem to be any record of you in our system." It is
suggested that I call my former employer.
As it happens, I know the guy who handles this stuff there, so I get
through to him with a minimum of fuss and bother. (At this point, I feel
like throwing him a parade.) He tells me to call my former employer's
parent company — at its "Shared Services Center" — to find out what's
what's happening with my life. Many buttons to push. Many automated
voices with whom to chat. Ten minutes or so on hold. Finally, a
purportedly live person tells me that she doesn't know what's going on,
but that she will get in touch with the company who's handling the
health-insurance handling between former employer and spiffy new
health-care provider and see "what could have fallen through the
cracks." I, myself, have fallen through the cracks into hell.
A bit later, the Shared Services Center calls me back and tells me
all is well. I can now go pick up my prescriptions, as long as I take
along this piece of paper with several long numbers on it, which are my
various codes that I need to confirm my coverage. These look like the
numbers I would need to launch a pre-emptive ICBM strike on Kamchatka.
Off I go back to the pharmacy. I spend 25 minutes waiting with my thumb
in my ear while the nice pharmacist lady calls Company No. 2 which, for
the benefit of readers who may have joined us late, is the company that
handles my prescription drug benefits for my spiffy new health-insurance
company, the one that did so poorly with the hospital executives in
that survey. I watch the nice pharmacist lady. Many buttons to push.
Many automated voices with which to chat. Finally, she seems to be
talking to a purportedly live person.
"Oh?" she saysinto the phone. "That seems high for a co-pay."
We now must take a brief detour
into the fabulous world of our
nation's major pharmaceutical companies. As I mentioned, we have a
serious chronic illness in our house that requires many prescriptions
for many drugs. The nice pharmacist lady informs me that my co-pay for
one of these drugs has gone from $25 to $600 a month
the "drug is not a preferred one." At this point, I am seriously
thinking of leaping the counter and gulping as many serious narcotics as
I can before they subdue me.
As it happens, and as it was explained to me by my wife, who is
professionally expert in these matters both by vocation and by
education, the patent for one of said drugs is due to expire. This would
enable the manufacture of generic forms of the drug which,
theoretically, would be cheaper. So what the company does is jigger with
the formula a bit, rename it clumsily, and then re-establish the patent
on the "new" form of the drug. (Drug companies also have been accused
of buying off the makers of generic drugs.) At which point, the drug
under its old name becomes "not preferred." Zoom go the co-pays.
Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 1/18/2012
What the GOP's "Market-Based" Health Care Looks Like
Read more about the above pharmaceutical patent document practices that have resulted in antitrust action here.