I spent nearly all day on the phone trying to get a prescription for Procardia — a standard, not new, not special, blood pressure medication. I have to take it in three doses because I don’t have a stomach and capsules simply don’t work. They told me three months of it would cost me $275, except they also said that ONE month would be a mere $29.00.
“What?” I said. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why would one month cost thirty dollars, but three cost $275?”
Suddenly, there was a long pause and he said, “Can you hold please? I need to check something.” By now, of course, I had the supervisor. And suddenly he stopped being a clerk and realized that this really DIDN’T make any sense.
A few minutes later, he says, “Uh, sorry about that. It’s actually $87 for three months, but you might get it cheaper if you use a coupon.”
Long pause. “That’s it? You’ve been beating me up about this for hours and it’s just “Oops, sorry. Little calculation error there.”
More silence. “Well, is there anything else I can help you with?”
“No,” I said. “I think you’ve done more than enough already.”
I knew this was going to be bad, but wow, what a bummer.
I expected this to be a troubled beginning. Anytime you sign on for year one of a big project like this, you know it is going to be messy. It might even get ugly. But this is pretty much what I expected, but I had hoped to delay the hysteria for another couple of months.
No such luck. I hate changing medical plans but this plan offers a lot of benefits I haven’t had before and it’s free. That is — medically speaking — a double whammy on the plus side. We really need those benefits and the money we don’t have to pay each month. It makes a big difference, so I’m dealing with it. I just hope they don’t kill me.
However. This plan is brand spanking new and this is also its first month as a functional program, so a lot of providers have never heard of it — unless they are already part of the UMass network. Since dentists were never part of UMass’s program, I needed to make a dentist appointment and nobody knew nothing about anything.
Let me start by saying there are not a lot of dentists in this area. This whole county has too few family doctors and a genuine scarcity of dentists. Although I have great benefits with this plan, the problem is finding a dentist that actually takes their insurance because Medicare (Advantage or not) doesn’t pay them anything near what they normally get for their services. My problem is I need my teeth cleaned and I have a broken tooth that needs something done with it. I’m not sure what, but that’s why I need a dentist.
The company running the show isn’t actually UMass but a separate organization who run medical groups. They are located in (sigh) Alabama, so when I try to tell them where I need the dentist to be, they have no idea where I live or what is nearby versus what is at the most distant possible point.
And then, there’s the minor detail that no one has heard of this plan before because it’s new and just started at the beginning of January. I’ve spent hours on the phone calling dentists that are on the New Hampshire border while we are on the opposite side of the state on the Rhode Island border. Eighty-five miles is a long voyage for a dental cleaning. Or, they only deal with people in nursing homes. Or only children younger than 17. Or they don’t know if they accept the insurance and have no way of checking because the people who answer the phones can make or change appointments, but have no clue about anything else.
Remarkably — three hours later — I have an appointment. In February. In Milford which is just a few miles away. Maybe it will be okay. I really badly want it to be okay.
I knew it was going to be like this. I hoped it would be easier. I should have known better. This sort of this is never easy. I’m really going to miss BlueCross — especially their customer service which was great — maybe the very best part of their service. If only it wasn’t so expensive!