17 April 2007

I really hate my health insurance company.

Maybe hate is too strong of a word. And in this case, it kind of seems to be less their fault than others. Still, I'm highly annoyed at a variety of entities today.

I went to pick up a couple of prescriptions at Walgreens last night -- my Flonase and my albuterol inhaler. Last year, I was paying $5 a pop for each. This year, I'd gotten my birth control pills, Flonase and thyroid meds for FREE. I found out today it is because they are all generics. For whatever reason, I was still expecting to pay $10 last night. Instead, I paid $33.58. For just my inhaler. Now, it was a slightly different inhaler, but the medicine inside is the same.

I didn't bother to ask what the fuck was up at Walgreens because they NEVER have an answer. Why ask when I'm going to hear, "I don't know. Contact your insurance company."

So, I did today. Turns out that since it's an albuterol inhaler with a brand name (Pro-Air!) it now costs $35 a pop. Lucky me, I can get my doctor to write a three-month prescription and get that for $50. This is what I do with my Advair inhaler (I've said it before, people: asthma is sexy). However, when I started doing that two years ago, Blue Cross told me I had to get it done at one of a handful of pharmacies. I was driving out to St. Louis Park four times a year to a Cub to get that stupid prescription. The one plus to all of this time on the phone today is that I found out I can now get my three-month supply at Walgreens and save myself a trip to the 'burbs. Sweet.

After my somewhat enlightening conversation with Miles (who was very helpful), I called Walgreens to make sure they didn't have a generic and were just screwing me over because they could. The girl I talked to said there wasn't a generic and that albuterol was always a brand name. Why I'd been charged for it as a generic for YEARS is beyond me in this case. I wasn't going to get into that with her, though. What's the point?

I just wish someone would have told me when I ordered the refill that I was going to start paying out the ass. I didn't even really need the inhaler. I have a ton of them at home. I'm like Annabella Sciorra's character in The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. I have inhalers EVERYWHERE -- my purse, the drawer of my coffee table, my desk at work, my nightstand and two in my gym bag for some reason. And then I have three backups waiting to replace the aforementioned ones as they run out.

Is it overkill to have that many? Maybe. Probably. My asthma isn't so bad since I started using Advair. But if you've ever been in a situation where you cannot get a breath and you could fix that with a couple of puffs of an inhaler you might do the same.

I shouldn't be bitching. I don't pay my health insurance premiums. Sure, my copays change unpredictably and sometimes wildly every year. Sure, the changes happen in March so there is no possible way to plan from one year to the next. Sure, I had to drop out of our flex plan because the boss man wouldn't sign my checks for months at a time and I'd have money taken out of every check while waiting on $150 to $200 checks every month. But at least I have health insurance.

Incidentally, the inhaler was changed to make it better for the environment. They eliminated the CFCs previously used to propel the medicine. I didn't try the new thing to see how it worked. I should when I get home. I'll feel so much better that I can easily breathe our polluted air, knowing I'm no longer spewing massive amounts of CFCs into the air when I use my inhaler.


Anonymous said...

Walgreens misinformed you. Plain old albuterol is a "drug level" and not a brand name. You were charged correctly before your RX change. I'd take my questions to the pharmacist, preferably a Pharm-D.

Jess said...

Thanks, anonymous. Color me shocked that the girl at Walgreens was clueless. The only reason I can think of as to why there would suddenly not be a generic rescue inhaler available is because the new, CFC-free inhalers were patented and even though the medicine is the same there won't be a generic available until the patent expires.

I will find someone who knows what they're talking about, dammit. I will get to the bottom of this!

L'Austin Translation said...

Holy crap! I hope this is not the case!

I am due to get a new inhaler soon. I guess I can tell you what my Walgreens does...

Anonymous said...

It's true. No more generic albuterol. Yes, it is because of hte CFC-free inhalers. I got screwed too.

Jess said...

This is one of those situations where I really don't enjoy being right.

Also, fuck the ozone! I recycle. I take the bus. Now I have to pay out the ass for my inhaler so I can breathe the air polluted by Rich Botoxed Soccer Mom hauling her one spoiled kid around town in a Hummer? Man, fuck that.

Erica said...

I just got a letter from my insurance company about my albuterol prescription. I actually had a prescription from my doctor from October that I just never filled because the last one hasn't run out yet. Wish I had gone on and done that. Damn.

L'Austin Translation said...

Well, fuck.

I mean, not that I want to be contributing to global warming and stuff, but now asthma is more expensive?

That just makes it entirely less sexy ;-)