$530 for people, $15 for dogs

On September 1, my insurance company chose to re-organize… everything.

With no warning, they changed all account numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and billing practices. Suddenly payments were due that had been thought paid. They did not wait until January 1, when everyone’s plan changes anyway, but launched on September 1, sending out new cards to everyone, new explanation letters (in separate envelopes), new bills (in yet more envelopes), and new followup bills (in yet more separate envelopes.) Oh, and the new billing system doesn’t show your balance. Thanks, guys.

mitotaneAt the same time, they apparently set up a new rule that cancer drugs have to go through a company with “convenient locations in ten states” (locations not listed on their web site, thank you). I found this out not through a letter (though I am sure I will get one next month) but when they rejected my prescription renewal.

Nothing like being told to wait a month or two for your cancer drugs, right?

So I called the company and yes, I speak English, I’m a patient, this is my number, this is my problem, oh, you’re closed today? Thanks for letting me now up front.

The next day I called again, and was told that I had to call FutureScripts, a division of CVS, so I did that. FutureScripts was very nice but said there was no override they could do. Finally they figured out, after 20 minutes of research, that they could send the prescription, one time, to Walgreen’s mail-order service for overnight delivery. I got an exemption good until 5 pm.

I called my doctor’s office. The one person who could help wasn’t in yet. Then she was in but working on someone else’s order. Then, only two hours later, I got a call back, which is good because usually the callbacks happen after 6 pm. I explained the problem and she said she’d take care of it.

Today rolled around and I hung out at home but nothing happened, so finally I called Walgreen’s, and you can guess the story. They were very nice but nobody ever faxed in a prescription. I called my doctor’s office back but the person responsible is not around.

So… it’s time for a new oncologist, which means going to another city.

Dave 2014

Update: It turns out that the good people at Bristol-Myers Squibb have changed the price of Lysodren from around $6.47 for 240 tablets to $7 per tablet. So I am not paying for it myself. I called the insurer again, since Futurescripts said they set the policy, and again they told me I had to go to Futurescripts. I talked to Futurescripts and frankly I lost it when the guy told me to talk to the insurer. He then did what they should have done in the first place, which is walk me through the solution — get the doctor’s office to re-send the prescription to BriovaRX, and then get CVS to get an emergency supply for me, free. Turns out my doctor’s office had not only not faxed the prescription to Walgreen’s, but hadn’t faxed it to Briova. However, Briova said, “I see you have this prescription at CVS, so we’ll just transfer that one.” The result is I missed the doses for about a day and a half, but got the drugs for free (since I’ve long passed my max out of pocket).

Along the way, I found out that the average cost of Lysodren is over $500 for humans. For dogs, you can get the same drug, in the same bottle, in the same quantity and strength — for $15.

Thank you, Bristol-Myers Squibb. I am sure that Lysodren has suddenly become much more expensive to make, since studies came out showing it is effective.

Good thing I have friends in the industry. I’m going to be asking them to quietly tell the generic makers about this opportunity.

And as for you there, up in Canada, over in France and Sweden and Norway and such — stop laughing.