The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

If I have to listen to one more price complaint…

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:53 am on Thursday, August 21, 2008

I need to check the calendar–is it a full moon? Is Jupiter aligning with Mars? Did a comet zoom by and spray us with radioactive dust? Because I have had to put up with some of the most assinine whining about the price of prescriptions this week, more so than their usual rants.

Over the years, my compassion for listening to complaints about pricing has plummeted and is directly proportional to 1)how much they have to pay and 2) the importance of the prescription. For example:

Son comes in and picks up Ma’s Vicodin and Xanax.  He brings $8 because thats what Ma gave him.  The copays are $4 and $7.26.  The copays have been $4 and $7.26 for 5 months and there is no price match or deals on controlled drugs.  “Shouldn’t they be $4?”  Nope.  He huffs away to get more money.

Guy comes in with a transfer for Viagra from my own chain.  I call only to find out is has been transferred already to a nearby competitor. Great, a wasted long distance phone call. I call the competitor and bring it over. Its been 6 months and its gone up about $40. Well it is what it is, not covered.  He wants to know what it costs and when I give him the price, he launched into a diatribe of how he walked away from Big Box because they were expensive and my price was $2 higher.   Being just a little cheeky, I just said “Do you want me to transfer it back?” I couldn’t resist.

Son comes in for his elderly fathers medication.  Doctor had left this message. “Cancel Lunesta order for #10 and fill it for #30, one daily at bedtime for sleep wandering/agitation. OhhhKaaay.  The Son didn’t want the Lunesta last week because it wasn’t coveredand “$50+for 10 tabs is ridiculous” so I cannot imagine that he will want 30 of them today for 3x the price.  Sadly he took it and 2 days later it was changed to Remeron. **Flush** $130 down the tubes.  I kinda felt bad for him but in all honesty I did try to tell him of other alternatives before he laid down the cash.

Lady comes in to pick up her rx.  I had filled it for cash because the 100ct price was better than using her insurance for 3×30.  At the register the tech walks back to the computer ( a HUGE pet peeve of mine) so I ask why. “She wants to use her insurance”. I tell her “its cheaper to get 100 than to use the insurance, LIKE IT SAYS ON THIS NOTE”.  But NO,  customer pipes up and says ” I’m just curious”  So this lady stops traffic like the chick in the VISA check card commercial who wants to pay cash.  My tech doesn’t use wisdom and ask her to move aside. We reverse the claim, re run the claim for 30 (her max allowed), just to prove a point.  #30 is 9.79 and #100 cash is 13.97. Valuable time wasted and we will probably do it again in 100 days. Customers have lousy memories.

International Man comes in and wants his “Veepetor” (Lipitor) filled. He has Medicare D and a copay of $38.  He brings me a discount card issued by AAA.  My man Friday explains that it won’t help him, but IM doesn’t believe it so we waste more valuable time running thru his discount card. Its over $150.00. He completely balks. Friday explains that this card is not insurance. “Can I use both?” no. “So why did they send it to me?”.  Cuz there is a sucker born every minute?”

Mr Barrel Chest comes in to pick up his bag of goodies.  He’s in the donut hole now and knows it. He does not however miss out on the opportunity to complain about the injustice and tell me that the NEW PRESIDENT WILL FIX THIS MESS blah blah blah, sure he will…   Never mind the fact he has all tier 3 type meds where some well chosen generics might do.  I make mention of this fact only to be shut down with “I think my doctor knows what he is doing”  Then shut your mouth and open your wallet. I am done with ya.

It seems like a good time for a reminder for any reader who might not be a pharmacist:  Insurance is a contract between you ( the customer) and your insurance company.  I agree to bill the plan but I don’t write the contract. Your copays and plan limits are set by THEM not ME. If you don’t like the price, then complain to them, not me.  If it were up to me you could get 360 days worth of your meds, then I’d have to see you once a year instead of 12. I’d never have to request a Prior Auth for non-covered meds, or a vacation override. Every drug would be $1 and everything would be covered…..and while I am at it, I’d like a pony too.



Comment by Scargosun

August 21, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

You have a pet peeve of your tech going to the computer?


Comment by Karen H

August 21, 2008 @ 7:28 pm

Amen, sister! Wonder if we can type that up and tape it on the counter – about insurance being a contract between THE CUSTOMER and the insurance. ‘Cuz some days I don’t want to feel like a punching bag anymore!

have you ever had an ‘incident’ while giving vaccinations? a bleeder or anything? And I take it you don’t do a ‘flu shot clinic’ you do individual appointments? sounds like a great deal. Last fall we had a clinic where we had a company come in and give flu shots and they were lined up out the door…

enjoy your writing! It happens everywhere, just different names! I frequently print you out and share your blog at work… we get a lot of laughs!


Comment by Frantic Pharmacist

August 21, 2008 @ 7:36 pm

I feel like I spent the entire day doing price checks for people. Folks, I can’t tell you what your price is simply by looking at your prescription number!
It was just one of those days…..


Comment by The Ole' Apothecary

August 21, 2008 @ 7:39 pm

Is Veepitor what Obama’s, or McCain’s, running mate takes for cholesterol control?

Prescription price complaints have been a U.S. national sport for generations. Take healthcare and add a commodity you can point to, and you get the flak. Perhaps this is why health insurance billing so so obscure—no one knows what they are paying for because nothing is itemized, and people don not necessarily shop around for the best deal on laparoscopic cholecystectomies or angioplasties. Itemization of ALL healthcare bills should be a consumer right! Then, our customers will be able to bitch at doctors, too. They just need a specific. Oy, vey, won’t that be beautiful! “Doc, why are you charging me for all that tubing?” “I didn’t order that tubing, that went with your I.V. therapy.” “Why so much?” “You had a TPN every day.” “Why such a big TPN? Use less electrolytes next time. Use the standard mix, don’t individualize them!” OH, pleeeez, let it happen, let THEM face the consequences of their therapeutics!


Comment by pharmacychick

August 21, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

Scargosun, My pet peeve should have been more specific–I HATE it when I have a finished prescription, rung up, signed for and THEN the tech leaves the cash register to take it back to the computer. It usually involves some ‘issue’ like “why is it so expensive?” “I didn’t pay that last time, what was the price last time?”, I want 3 months not 1 (or visa versa)….basically any reason NOT to get that stupid prescription sold and outa here gets my goat. It usually means doing something over or changing something.


Comment by pharmacychick

August 21, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

to answer your question: I have had no life threatening incidents during vaccinations, although I did have a bleeder once. When I pulled the needle out a shot of blood came spewing out. It missed my clothes and the patient happened to be my boss.

The worse thing that ever happened vaccinating was when I gave a flu shot to somebody who wanted a pneumonia shot. To my credit however, I told the pt what they were getting and he didn’t listen. I always say “You are John smith and you are here for a flu shot correct?” He answered YES. It wasn’t til AFTER that he said “Did you say flu shot?”

Yes I do flu clincs, two in the store each year–the line-em-up first-come-first-served. However as more and more people have figured out that appointments get them in and out faster, I find my regulars get appointments and its my NON-customers that attend the clinic. We generally get 150-240 in the 6 hour period. I also go to businesses and nursing homes.

thanks for reading, by the way!


Comment by Carol

August 22, 2008 @ 8:25 pm

The govt senior’s plan has a once yearly $100 deductible. Has had one for around 15 years now. And yet, every year, when the deductible rolls around on August 1 (it’s a weird date for political reasons), I get some fool who says they have never paid that deductible. Drives me crazy. I can print up last year’s reciepts and show them and they still don’t believe me. Now I just tell them to call the ministry of health. If I am feeling particularly evil, I give them the phone number.

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