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Getting Old is NOT for Sissies!

Published on May 7, 2013

Just dealing with the medical and insurance issues is enough to send a rational individual(That would be me…no snickering out there) around the bend.

I will be the first to admit that my medical and insurance issues are–knock on wood–WAY less fraught with difficulty than many other folk out there who have to deal with catastrophic situations and illnesses.  BUT… having just spent close to an hour on the phone with some hapless minions caught in the toils of some humongous healthcare corporation recently formed by the consolidation of two merely large healthcare corporations ( The two of them, apparently, unable to get their data systems synchronized), I must say that I miss the “good old days” when I could trot down to  Pelsue Drug in about five minutes, where I could  get something to cure what ailed me in about two minutes and if there was anything untoward about the whole transaction, the friendly, well-informed local pharmacist (Donn Olin or Gary Benes, usually) would call somebody up and get things straightened out before sending me off on my appointed rounds.

Now I am also aware that there are a whole boatload of NEW wonder drugs and treatments that did not exist in those halcyon times and that I have a whole boatload of new aches and maladies that were still undercover in those “good old days”.  People survive amazing things now.  They live through absolutely DREADFUL injuries and illnesses, many displaying more fortitude and good cheer that I can muster in the face of a hangnail.  I think that this is wonderful but why can’t the policies and procedures in the insurance and healthcare delivery end of things advance as well?

The company that had the contract with the State Teachers’ Retirement System to supply prescriptions by mail (UPS, actually) and had an internal split, so that one prescription came from one division and the other two prescriptions came from another (No one ever said why this was so; I suspect it had something to do with price…doesn’t everything?).  Then the parent company hooked up with another company of another name and the combined operation got another name with separate divisions which–just like the soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ robe–decided somehow to split my prescriptions another way.

Now I, all unsuspecting, attempt to secure delivery of the next month’s nostrums and the individual on the other end of the line tells me that I’ve got the wrong division for what it is that I want but she will give me another number to use the next time and she will connect me to the right place.  Well, I got connected, all right, but this division could only handle one of the prescriptions.  The nice person there said that she would connect me to the proper office for the other one.  WRONG!  The next person said that I should call the first place but the number that I had was not right and she gave me a new one.

This same maze  led me through about three more twists and turns and persons who were doing their best–really they were–to get me to the right place to get this all taken care of.

Finally, I landed on the desk of a perfectly nice person who, after checking files from here to Baraboo, WI, told me that there was no authorization to fill this prescription, even though I had just gone through a similar hassle, going back and forth between the insurance company, the prescription provider and the physician’s office at University Hospitals for approximately ten days.  Ah, but that was before the corporate consolidation.  There was no notation on the chart to say why this could not be done.  Maybe I’m on a terrorist “watch list”?  This person gave me ANOTHER phone number.  I’ve half a notion to try it right now to see if all of the aforementioned rigamarole was nothing but a bad dream of some sort.

There’s a glitch in the University Hospitals, Chagrin Highlands, phone system too because the last two times (Yes, there were more before that) apparently, anything left on voicemail disappeared into a black hole (Not the ones out in space, at least I don’t think so) and required several non-800 calls to finally get through to the doctor’s nurse, who was getting pretty testy over the entire exchange…not to say that I wasn’t myself.

And one hates to be yelling at somebody who truly is NOT at fault for the mix-up but who else IS there?  I get to a certain number of transfers and waits on “hold” (Some of them with really bad music) and I’m ready to heave the phone and the empty prescription bottles out a window and practice up for the “curses like a drunken sailor” (No offense, USN) finals to be held at a local watering hole.  At this point, rationality is stretched thin and I grit my teeth a lot.

Luckily, I embarked upon this adventure early enough that I should be able to get my hands on the prescriptions in time to prevent my completely losing faith in the system.  If I get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Beri-beri before the call from the healthcare provider, we’ll just fire up the crematorium and be done with it.

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