I must have missed the announcement, but when did everything become about money, money, money?? Morality, integrity, honor, honesty, choice and safety??? Oops, they're out the window if there is money to be made somewhere! Business has become all about greed, avarice, and manipulation!! I hate it! The thing that is most bothersome about this trend, is that we are all dragged along no matter what our personal beliefs, values, and ethics might be.
When I retired last December I was not eligible for any COBRA benefits and who could have afforded them anyway? I won't be eligible for Medicare for another year and a half. (Wow, there's still something I'm not old enough for!) So we signed me up for dependant health coverage through the Big Guy's employer.
I should preface the rest of this posting with a disclaimer that I have always gotten overwhelmed by employee benefit packages. They are always so convoluted and unclear and filled with little tiny print that describes the things they know people won't like. The whole process was always a pain in the...uhhh.... neck!
The insurance company offered by the employer is Aetna, a well-known and long time player in the medical field. Great! Then came the kicker. The prescription drug plan was NOT through Aetna at all. It was through something called MEDCO. Never heard of it. At first read, it seemed pretty straightforward. Go to your pharmacy, pay the co-pay, get your meds, and go home. Simple.
Then in that little tiny print it said "Oh, by the way, you could save money by ordering a 3 month supply from their mail-order center, delivered right to your mailbox and everything! Cool, huh?" Well, no thank you. I'm just fine with getting my meds through my friendly neighborhood pharmacy. But we signed up anyway, because no insurance coverage for meds is outrageously expensive!
I told the Big Guy I felt safer paying a bit more for my retail pharmacy and that I didn't want to use the mail option. And I gave him my reasons:
1. It is an unsafe practice of medical care! Who knows where or who fills those prescriptions?? Some grossly underpaid worker in a remote village in India or somewhere?? Are they pharmacists? Are they even trained? Are they committed to protecting my safety?? HAH! That isn't guaranteed anywhere in the literature!
2. The meds are vulnerable to theft or tampering! Once the meds are sent, they go through the mails or some freight delivery company. Who knows how many places they go or how many people have access to those little packets of pills?? I wouldn't let anyone touch my suitcases if I were flying somewhere, why ever would I be so cavalier about something I'm going to ingest directly into my body???
3. Then, suppose they make it through those perils and they arrive safe and sound at my address....in Texas! TEXAS!! Where the the outside temperatures can be anywhere from 15 F to 115F! When was the last time you had any kind of medications? Somewhere on the bottle or in the instructions it almost always says, "Keep in a cool, dry place." In Texas??? Oh, please!
4. Its damned incovenient to have to remember to order the refills in enough time not to run out.
So how would any of that benefit me or my health? "It would be cheaper!" Oh goodie, so when I'm lying on the floor in the last throes of my early demise from unsafe meds, I'll take comfort in the fact that, at least, I didn't pay full price!
Like I said, "No, Thank You!" The Big Guy didn't like spending the extra money but I was adamant! Okay, fast forward three months. I've gone to the pharmacy to pick up my meds and the price has doubled! Hey! That can't be right. Well, it was right. They told me that I had used up my allotted usage of the retail pharmacy and now as an incentive to use their WONDERFUL mail order service, I would pay double the initial rate. (Well......fu....dge...!)
Mikey had tried to tell me, but I guess I didn't really get it. After all, the literature all said "I could use the mail order..." That implies a choice, either you would or you wouldn't. Nowhere did it say that I must use it. No, they'll just charge you twice as much.
I may not have mentioned it, but I am just the tiniest bit stubborn. I don't like being forced to do anything. It just makes me dig in and resist even harder. (I blame it on the 1960s! Remember "Hell no, we won't go"??)
The reality was that most of my meds are generic and the co-pay was bearable, even at twice the amount, and they were still a lot less than full price! I thumbed my nose at them and continued to get my meds locally.
Since then about every 2 months I got a letter from MEDCO, "We notice that you are not taking advantage of the Enormous Cost Savings of our Mail Order option...." Then I started to get phone calls! There have been three. Two different men and one woman have called. "We notice that you are not taking advan...." STOP! Firstly, they are difficult to understand because even though they are speaking English, they are definitely from India (HAH!) or that part of the world, and their accents distort their words.
Anyway, I explained to each of them my reasons (see above) for "not taking advantage..." and that I had no plan to change my mind. (I might have mentioned something about "Hell freezing over", but I may have dreamed that.) They were all very polite, thanked me for my time, and I was let alone for another little while.
Today, I got their most recent "Important Announcement" mailing. and I quote,
"Your....plan allows you to purchase your meds at a retail phamacy a certain number of times before your co-pay increases Our records show....reached that limit. You can transfer....to MEDCO BY MAIL to avoid paying the co-payment increase at retail." (emphasis added)
In other words, they're raising the prices on retail to strong-arm you into using the mail option. And God only knows how much the increase will be!
Well, okay, okay, I give! I am out of options. I can't afford to pay more. I'll bite the bullet, take the risk, and start using their stupid mail order. But I don't have to like it. I am angry and resentful and will likely stay that way for a long time. I will never say a positive word about MEDCO to anyone.
So was any of this about improving my health care? No. Was any of it about reducing my burdens, financial or convenience? No. Do I expect any kind of positive outcome from doing it their way? No. Will I get some tremendous windfall of benefit to me?? No. So what was it about??? Who will benefit?? Its all about the "Money, Money, Money"! Their money, not mine!! Because you can be damn sure that the mail order business is a LOT cheaper to run than paying claims directly to retail pharmacies. Money! That's what its always about! People be damned!
You know, I can hardly wait for whatever final health care bill that comes out of Washington. Oh yeah, we're all going to have lots of fun then, just like this!!