Money For Nothing And The Chicks For Free

Over Rhiannon’s spring break, she had several medical appointments. Although she is in good health, one of the physicians gave her a prescription for some medicine with some technical sounding scientific name that I will not attempt to reproduce here. (I’m an engineer, not a doctor – give me a break.) We figured, ok, we actually are covered by health insurance and all that good stuff that tries to let you sleep at night until you realize just how much you could still be liable for if something really bad happened. Since this wasn’t really bad, how bad could it be?

Enter the Costco Pharmacy. Or more specifically the clueless guy that works at the Costco Pharmacy – the bane of my existence.

Our health insurance likes generic drugs. (Weird, an insurance company going for the cheapest thing possible.) They request that all prescriptions be filled by a generic alternative if one is available. If the physician writes a prescription to be filled “as prescribed”, then the difference falls to the poor sap just trying to pick up some pills. (The insurance also requests that you inquire if there are any over-the-counter medicines that will serve the same purpose as your medicine, “… to help reduce costs to you, the consumer.” And so they don’t have to pay anything at all.) And finally, to top it all off, the insurance will only cover prescriptions for 30 days or less at a time.

We didn’t know any of this heading to the pharmacy in Costco. Should we have looked before hand? Yes. Should the pharmacy have been able to figure this out as well? Yes.

So when Rhiannon went to pick up her medicine and the total came to eleventy-billion dollars, we were a little shocked. And when I say little, I really mean to say thank you to the nice lady who caught me before I hit the ground after falling over from shock.

A call to the insurance company was made. By me. Not Rhiannon. I am the primary name on our health insurance. I have access to all of the records of claims and where she visits. The insurance people would not talk to me. So Rhiannon called – and since the pharmacy didn’t give us the generic alternative, and since the doctor was good enough to save Rhiannon the time of having to go back for an additional refill that extended the prescription past 30 days, we were told that the eleventy-billion dollar charge was on us.

So Rhiannon went back to the pharmacy to complain to them – and got the same clueless guy who helped her out earlier. I fully expected them to say sorry, better luck next time and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Instead, Rhiannon came walking back to me with an expression that said something good happened but I am trying not to be obvious about it. And in a tone that I would expect from someone who just pulled off a robbery and is walking out of a store with close to eleventy-billion dollars in precious gems hidden on her person, she told me, “We need to go. I’ll explain later.”

Later: The clueless guy at Costco admitted they should have filled the prescription with the generic equivalent. He mentioned nothing about the additional renewal that was longer than 30 days. He also agreed to give us a credit at the pharmacy for the difference of what we should have paid and what we did. He messed up again. Our minimum payment is 15 dollars.

Minimum. It should have been higher.

He gave us back the eleventy-billion dollars minus the 15 dollar copay in credit. That is why Rhiannon will be in charge of our negotiations from now on.

I really like that Costco pharmacy guy.