Saturday, April 28, 2007

Joy o' health insurance ends ... now

So Little A needs Zantac because without it, she is a little reflux-breathing dragon, squirting milk out of her mouth and nose for an hour after every feed and screaming in pain from it. I have filled this particular RX three times, always at the same pharmacy. Here is a synopsis of my experience:

First bottle: Cost to me: $10 standard copay. But, no applicator comes with the drugs. Considering the dosage is o.4 ml, this is a problem. Most of the medication applicators I've amassed since Big A came into the world are for doses over 1 ml, so I can't use those, either.

Second bottle: Cost to me: $23. When I ask the pharmacist worker why I 'm not being charged the usual standard copay, I am told "Your insurance doesn't work that way. You must have a deductible to meet before it kicks in." I explain that no, I don't have a deductible. And the last time I got the Zantac, it only cost me ten dollars. This elicits blank stares. The baby is crying, Big A is fussing, so I begrudgingly pay the $23 and go home with the Zantac. Oh, once again, they give me no applicator. Because 0.4 ml is such an easy amount to eyeball.

Third bottle: Cost to me: $34. What the fuck? This time Big A is not with me, and Little A is asleep in her stroller, so I feel perfectly able to stick around for a real conversation about why I have a different copay each time I get the Zantac. This time the actual pharmacist is there. He tells me that I am wrong about not having a deductible on my insurance drug coverage. To which I say, "No, that's not true." Claiming to actually know how my insurance works seems to piss him off, because he starts talking loudly and slowly, like I am both deaf and an imbecile. He says I don't know what I'm talking about.

To prove that I do know what I'm talking about, I ask him to look up the myriad of other prescriptions DH and I have filled so far this year ... always with just a copay of $10 or $20. Mr. Smartypants Pharmacist can see this clearly in the computer, so switches his argument from "You haven't met your deductible" to "This is your brand-name drug copay."

But it's not -- the brand name copay is twenty dollars," I say.

"No it's NOT," he says.

"Is too!" I say.

We are obviously going nowhere, so I snarl "thank you soooo much," pay for the drug, and leave. On the way back to my car I call my insurance company, just to verify that I am not nuts. The lady at the insurance co. says my understanding of my plan coverage sounds correct. "No deductibles," she says. Then she adds, "But Zantac isn't covered in the formulary."

"Why not?" I ask.

"Because there is a nonprescription version of that medication available."

This is just so screwy. Because I have never seen a non-RX version of liquid Zantac over the counter at any drug store I've been in. Does the insurance company seriously think that my infant can take adult (or even children's) Zantac tablets? Well, that would be a choking hazard plus Little A's first solid food ever! What fun. And Yum.

So, the insurance is lame for not covering the Zantac when in reality, the only drug I can get to fix this problem is available only by RX. And the pharmacy is incredibly lame for not being able to explain this without making erroneous claims about how my frickin' insurance works. If they don't know why the cost of the drug is coming up the way it is, why not just say "we don't know?" Why make up random reasons? Sheesh.

I am not even going to try to figure out why it costs something different each time I've received it. Perhaps there is a futures market that trades exclusively in liquid Zantac shares, so the price floats on an hourly basis depending on how much acid America's children happen to be refluxing at any given moment. Yes, that must be it.

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