How an unexpected $1000 made me mad
An envelope arrived in the mail the other day. It was from my medical insurance company.
In it was a check made payable for close to a thousand dollars.
I knew what it meant, and I was fuming.
You see, I had recently ordered a new batch of test strips from everyone’s favorite medical supply house. I had just updated my insurance info with them (the division my wife works in had spun-off into a different company, so all the group and member numbers changed, but the company stayed the same) twice (because they royally screwed it up the first time). But after those hassles were resolved, they ultimately told me that I had no out-of-pocket costs and that the order would go out the following day.
It did, and I received my test strips with a statement saying my Balance Due was zero. Just like I’d done it all year long. Life was good.
But the check — it arrived because the portion of the order that my insurance company deemed to be MY responsibility (which was all of it) had been forwarded to my Flexible Spending Account administrator (the one where you contribute money tax-free to be used for medical expenses). That purchase fully depleted my account (and then some!) and they cut me a check for the balance. So the money I got was really mine, but my money shouldn’t have been spent on this order to begin with.
I have no intention of paying full price for these strips, and certainly not the above-MSRP that Edgepark seems to use as list price.
I called the insurance company. They told me that strips are now covered only under the prescription plan and no longer as DME (durable medical equipment). That’s a surprise change, but not one that’s worth the fight right now. I have neither time, backup supply, nor energy for that.
I called Edgepark to see if they could bill the order as a prescription rather than as DME. They can’t. But if I didn’t want to pay out-of-pocket, they could send me a return mailing label and I could ship it back and my account would be credited.
Oh, and you know how they were led to believe I would be covered for the strips? Through a website. “Ask the Magic 8-ball,” I suppose.
Anyway, I now had to call my endo to write a prescription to the mail-order pharmacy for test strips. I pressed option 1 (for prescription refills) and obediently answered their automated questions (who are you? whatdya want?) after the respective beeps. The automated voice told me they’d respond within two business days.
They were actually quite prompt. I know this because I got an email from my endo’s office that afternoon inviting me to log-in to their private and secure messaging system with a username and password (which took several tries to remember) so I could read a private and secure message they had sent me. A real PITA.
The message confirmed that a prescription for Bayer Contour strips was submitted to my mail-order pharmacy. But my meter doesn’t use Bayer Contour strips, it uses Bayer Contour NEXT strips. Bayer made a lot of fine accomplishments when they made my meter and strips. Coming up with a name wasn’t one of them.
So I called the endo’s office again, pressed the menu option to reach the front desk and explained the situation. The nice woman who answered asked me to please hold while she retrieved my chart. A little while later, a different person came on the line and I again explained the situation, after which time I was placed on hold while she retrieved my chart. Finally, receptionist #2 told me she’d speak to the nurse and have her fix the prescription.
A little later, an email came telling me to log into their private and secure messaging system, at which point I learned the proper strips were prescribed. The earlier message had mysteriously vanished.
I worry about what may have happened on the pharmacy’s end.
So now I wait … wait for the label to return three months’ worth of strips to vendor number one and wait for an identical quantity of the same (hopefully) type of strips to arrive from vendor number two. I’ve also got a $924 check at home, screaming “cash me!!”, but that might get me in trouble with the IRS or something.
There’s a trend towards developing technology to make the lives of people with diabetes simpler and less stressful. Right now, I’m not convinced that any amount of technology could do that, but a tiny bit of common sense could work wonders.
Meanwhile, I’ll be dusting off my old OneTouch meter soon and dipping into my leftover supply of those strips, because I’m quite sure the new ones won’t arrive in time.