Tuesday, April 10, 2007
CANCER JOURNAL - AND UPDATE
It's 2:30 a.m. Not even the sleeping pills were adequate to keep me asleep tonight. I woke up and was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of outrage. Medical Mutual of Ohio is engaging in blackmail. There was no warning this drug would not be covered. Not even when I called them to verify that I was using the right procedure to obtain the medication. The first dose cost me $30, and the oncologist's office was very positive at how well they had responded to my need. There simply was no warning. They are counting on the fact that I have gotten sufficiently committed to treatment and will simply sell some stock or close a bank account or put it on the charge card.
My husband and I had the first fight since my diagnosis last night. He is convinced there is just some mistake, while I know there has been no mistake. We had been handling cancer so well until now. We are currently barely speaking. At the moment my own sense of outrage at this injustice will not permit me to cave in to this blackmail even if we can find the money to pay for it. He just wants to pay for the drug and move on. What about those who have no resources? What about the insurance company that makes a profit by refusing to pay for my drugs?
Emend is made by Merck & Co., Inc. Their corporate profits for 2006 were $16,634.90 million.
Medical Mutual of Ohio is a not-for-profit private company. Who knows what their profits were for 2006. Of course they didn't call them "profits", did they?
I will be cancelling my next chemo appointment later this morning, and asking my doctor what the affordable plan to treat breast cancer is. I suspect there isn't one. And then I think that if I can persuade my husband to talk with me rationally, which right now is a pretty big if, we will be discussing my funeral arrangements. It is against everything I'm made of to spend our retirement savings on cancer treatment. I do not value life that much.
St. John Maximovich, the ball is in your court!
Thank you St. John. You certainly work quickly!
I am not a fighter. My long-suffering husband is. This morning he stood by his conviction that a mistake had been made somewhere, started making phone calls, and found the error at CVS Pharmacy.
Here is the sequence of events that led to me planning my own funeral.
1. I received the script for the nausea medications (3) from my oncologist right before leaving for Columbus. Since I was away, my husband took on the task of getting them filled.
2. The local pharmacy we had been using for years had just been rejected by our insurance. We needed a new one and chose the one closest to home, a CVS Pharmacy. He dropped off the scripts to be filled.
3. After a couple of days he called the pharmacy to see if they were ready. They told him they didn't have enough information to fill them. He gave them the information over the phone and asked how soon he could pick them up. They said an hour.
4. He went to the pharmacy a couple of hours later. The scripts were not filled, and could not be found. The pharmacist he had talked with on the phone was no longer working. Nobody knew anything. After searching, they located them and proceeded to fill them. Two scripts--generics--are pills in a bottle. The third and most expensive one, Emend, comes in a tri-fold pack. As you can see, there are three tablets in the tri-fold. That is what is needed for one dose of chemo. The pharmacy label on the tri-fold indicates one refill which I assumed would be needed for the next chemo dose.
5. Since chemo is scheduled for Thursday morning, I attempted to call in the refill yesterday, and the pharmacist phoned to tell me the insurance had bounced the prescription until next month.
6. After a fitful night and an angry and tearful discussion at the table this morning during which I refused to have anything more to do with chemotherapy and told him my plans to make an appointment with my oncologist to discuss palliative care, he picked up the empty tri-fold pack and studied the label.
7. CVS prints on their labels the number of pills in the prescriptions. We had not seen this on any drugstore labels before this morning. He noted that the tri-fold label indicated six pills. But we had only been given three--the three in one tri-fold pack--and nothing had been said about missing pills.
8. He contacted both the insurance representative at work and the oncologist's office as well as the pharmacy, and was finally able to determine that the prescription had been for six pills, not three; that CVS was not able to fill the entire prescription because they did not have enough on hand; and that they owed us one tri-fold which apparently they had forgotten about and had never told us about. He went to the pharmacy and obtained the second tri-fold pack without charge.
This was our first experience with CVS Pharacy. Needless to say it is going to be our last!
Obviously I am ashamed of my behavior and attitude and hope that I can handle the next crisis better than this one!
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.