Final decisions on prescriptions dilemma...

In my post of June 12, 2012 (please see archives), I discussed our concerns for bringing our medications with us while we live about the world, often in remote areas, far from a post office.

We've discovered that in certain areas, the receipt of packages is not only risky due to potential theft, but also inordinate delays. The thought of worrying every few months about receiving our refills will be an infringement upon our level of enjoyment.  What me, worry?

In the June post I explained that we had sent our prescription plan a comprehensive package of personal information, our itinerary, lists and reasons for medications, doctor's information and a completed litany of forms, along with a detailed letter explaining why we wanted to take no less than 12 months of prescriptions with us.  

Thus, we began the wait for approval for our "vacation request." Three to perhaps 10 years is hardly a vacation, as Tom often reminds me saying, "We will be living, not vacationing."

In speaking with our doctor, we discussed an annual Skype appointment with him whereby he could "see" us in order to meet his ethical criteria of an annual appointment in order to write refills for yet another year. This was satisfactory to us.

I weighed the package, loading it with postage and left it for the mailman almost six weeks ago.  With no response, it was hovering in my mind to call and check on the status of the request.  Friday, I called.

An hour later, after explaining the story to five different employees, none of whom could find a record of my filing for the request, my temper began to flare. It is seldom that my feathers get ruffled.  But, I knew remaining calm would get better results than to expose my ire.

In a firm, yet pleasant voice, I explained to rep #5 that I needed to be sent to someone who would be able to find the file.  I was sent to the supervisor of the "vacation request" department, explaining a very shortened version of what we needed and focused more on the location of our file.  I looked at my cell phone. I had been on this call for one hour and five minutes.

The supervisor left me on hold, returning a full four minutes later to explain that she had found the file and our request was denied! "Where's my denial letter?" I inquired.  No response. Finally, she stated, "Your insurance plan doesn't allow for vacation requests."  

"Why, may I ask," again in a calm voice, "didn't the agent tell me this was the case after I spent an hour on the phone in June asking them how to handle a vacation request and if we were potentially qualified?"

Why did he send me a packet of no less than 10 pages, explaining the process requiring me to include information they already had in their system, asking me to hand write in the forms on the few lines provided?" 

(No, I didn't hand write in the forms!  I printed the 12 pages of information using our printer and paper, directly from their system!)  She apologized for my inconvenience. I hung up trying to mumble some sort of a thank you. (Can't escape my ongoing effort to have good manners, I guess.)

Inconvenience? Ha! Doesn't incompetence sound more like it? Usually, I am a very calm person. My heart was racing. I paced around the room, adrenaline thumping through my body, heading directly to my brain for a solution. I paced. I ruminated. I paced some more. I poured a fresh glass of iced tea. 

I had an idea! Why didn't I think of this to begin with?

My simple idea...pay for our own prescriptions out of our pocket! Forget the prescription plan!  Forget the co-pays! Find the best possible prices for a one year's supply (the maximum time for which the doctor can ethically write)!

The comfy chair was calling me. Sitting down, with the frosty glass of iced tea in hand, I grabbed my laptop quickly bringing up our prescription plan records to determine the co-pays we had paid in the last 12 months. The total was $1542, the new number to match!

Now, the challenge...find a way to buy all of our prescriptions for one year for
as close as possible to this number, thus justifying buying outside of the plan.

My phone in hand, I looked up the phone number of the local Cub Foods Pharmacy and had the honor of speaking to Pharmacist Renee, a breath of fresh air after that grumpy "supervisor." She confirmed that "yes" we could buy any amount of medications for which we had a prescription. She priced 365 days of each of our combined seven prescriptions. (Numbers coming here in a minute).

Next, I called Walmart Pharmacy. What about their $4 per month prescription? Wait a minute! The $4 theory went out the window when I received the pricing from their pharmacist for the seven drugs. Our drugs were not in the $4 plan.

Here are the cost comparisons for the two locations:

Cub Foods Pharmacy $2445.80

Walmart Pharmacy:   $3022.48

Hummm...not good enough. However, Cub agreed to match the Walmart's best price on any single medication, only a slight improvement in the total, bringing it down to $2390.45, still $848.45 short of our goal.

Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. More iced tea. Wheels turning. Here we go! 

What's the commotion amongst senior citizens, without access to a good drug plan, buying prescription drugs from Canada?  I tried to picture myself bobbing up and down on a bus traveling to Canada with a bunch of seniors. 

Fingers flying across the keyboard, 1/2 hour later, web sites searched, reviews read, to discover that CanadaDrugs.com may be a partial solution.

(Please understand, we are not involved in this or any other companies in
any manner, and kindly ask you to do your own research as to what pharmacies/plans may work for you).

While considering the best prices at Cub, based on best prices at Walmart, matching the best prices at CanadaDrugs.com, I came to this conclusion:


We will buy some of the drugs from Cub Pharmacy and the better priced drugs from Canada which Cub can't match. Considering these two combined costs, we are at $1749, only $207 more than we've been paying for co-pays on our current plan, now to pay in full for each drug out of our own pocket, no insurance plan involved.  (I won't get into politics in this blog, but who's making money here? Are our own seniors being robbed?)

Before leaving Minnesota, we will purchase our last three months of prescriptions, using the plan and then use the 12 months prescriptions between Cub and CanadaDrugs.com.

We won't have to worry about prescriptions for 15 months out. Our doctor will write us new prescriptions in a year, while we still have three months on hand, plenty of time to repeat the entire process, while awaiting for the drugs to arrive. Both Cub and CanadaDrugs.com will mail to any address.

Moments later I was back at my laptop, sitting in my comfy chair, smiling from ear to ear, freshened glass of iced tea in hand, realizing that the New with Tags, 100% silk designer tie I was bidding on at eBay for Tom's dressy cruise outfits, was now up to $2.10 with free shipping and, ending in three minutes.

I won. 

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