Category Archives: Insurance Companies

Paying the PBM’s to service them.

So I had this nice 2014 post queued up that involved:

  • Me shutting down the site and hanging it up.
  • Me meeting this awesome hospital pharmy named Michelle who has (of all else) a totally awesome cooking website that (used to) throw down f-bombs worse than yours truly AND wrote a kick-ass cook-book (plus she was all “OMFG FAMOUS PHARMACIST” when she met me).  Every fucking pharmacist is published but me.  At least hers involves food porn and fucking tons of delicious bacon.  Uh.. Fucking as in the adjective, not the verb of her having sex with bacon.  Sorry NomNom, didn’t mean to imply that you have sex with bacon.  Fucking bacon is delicious though.. ARG FUCKING AS AN ADJECTIVE GOD DAMMIT.  You get the picture.  Her website is http://www.nomnompaleo.com and go buy her book, its awesome.  Her little cartoon of herself has no nose, which sorta bugs me, but I will certify, under penalty of perjury, that in real life she DOES have a nose.
  • Me getting pissed off at this derpy douchebag patient and reviving the smoldering blaze of TAP that lives in my soul.  No, really.  I almost brained this fucker with the cash register I was so fucking pissed off at his utter waste of a life, and a resulting waste of my time.  Then his mother got all involved.  He is 40 by the way, that should speak enough right there.
  • How in the past few years, I have taken into consideration not offending anyone (ie: Crackheads) with my ranting, and by doing so I am doing you all a grave injustice.
  • How gasoline cans in California fucking suck with the safety valve (instead of a direct spout) and as a result you spill more gas on the ground (and all over yourself) then you get in the tank, thereby making the “save the world” mentality that California wants to impose on people a fucking waste of effort, not to mention a huge safety hazard.  Plus you smell like fucking gasoline for a few days and must resist the urge to light yourself on fire to end it all.
  • Other shit that Im too lazy to type because Im fucking livid about the topic below.

However, this topic came up and is far more important (and involves far more swear words).

We all know that drugs are like stocks, the price goes up and down (mostly up).  However recently, a ton of shit has just skyrocketed in price.  Take various creams.  They used to cost 10 bucks a few months ago, and now they are just shy of 100.  Digoxin ranges from 900-1000 dollars for a bottle of 1000 where a few months ago it was 50 bucks for 1000.  Morphine ER has jumped from pennies to fucking hundreds and Endocet is almost 100 bucks a bottle.  Nobody knows why the price is going through the roof, and nobody has any answers other than the generic drug manufacturers must enjoy raping the American public so they can sell their shit in Mexico for reasonable prices.

Now usually this isn’t a problem, because as the price of the drugs go up, the PBMs (The companies that YOUR insurance companies hire to do the processing/computer shit and pay US, the pharmacies) adjust their prices and pay us more.  Its done on a contract basis like Cost + shit + a crap fee.  Its not the greatest, but it keeps the doors open and paychecks from bouncing.

HOWEVER, due to some fuckery or just plain greed, as the price of medications go up, they PBM’s are paying based upon the OLD price.  That means that little ms crackhead who gets Morphine ER that now costs me $200 the store is getting a fat check for $40, the price of the drug from 5 months ago.  In other words; under cost.  Thats right, I’m expected to dispense medications and take a $160 dollar loss.  Then the fucking twat has the balls to bitch about her $3 copay and take up 20 mins of my time as she bitches about what she can take (for FREE) because her turds resemble a fucking piece of plaster-of-paris.

So whats a pharmacy to do?  Take care of the patient so they don’t die and take a $100+ loss? Or tell her to take her shit elsewhere? The choice is easy, give her back the Rx, tell her it pays under cost, and you dont know where she can go to get it filled.  Per your contract with her insurance company she can’t pay cash (HAHAH PAY CASH!! AS IF!!).  Only rich fuckers and chumps pay for their medications now days.  Its not called Freemacy for nothing.

There are two huge points to be made about this:

  • Unless I can pay my fucking house payment and put food on the table using “Good Deeds” as a currency, Im not going to take a loss filling a prescription.  That little lady, when push comes to shove, doesn’t really give two dicks about you, your kids, your store, or the good deeds you do for her.  She wants her fucking dope, plain and simple, and she doesn’t want to pay for it.  By you taking that loss, you have just shown her that your time/profession/skills are worth nothing to her.  In fact, you’re just a fucking whore to her and her insurance who takes a fucking and then gives $100 for the privilege of getting your asshole reamed out.  Its reverse prostitution, and we as a profession are better than that.  Well, I used to think better than that, until the chains started handing out gift cards to PITA patients instead of backing up their abused staff and showing these fucks the door.  Grow a fucking pair chains!
  • By refusing to fill the Rx based on losing money, you are putting the ball in her court.  The insurance companies dont give a fuck about the pharmacies, but they give a fuck when she gets on the phone and cries that nobody will fill her medication.  SHE pays their paychecks, not us.  A problem with HER insurance reimbursing is not OUR problem, its HERS.  Does the grocery store give a fuck that your credit card was stolen by hackers who got into the Target systems and thereby wont work? No, because its YOUR credit card through YOUR bank so its YOUR responsibility to take care of that shit.  If enough patients complain and whine then maybe they will do something about it.  Yeah, and I can pull gold out of my asshole.

Now this all sounds fine and good, however the chain stores (and the pharmacists who staff them) really don’t give a shit if they lose money on an Rx.  They hand out gift cards to whiny fucks who complain that their prescriptions weren’t fill in 2 seconds or less.  The chains are so afraid of losing business they will gladly take that loss with a smile on their face.  The chain stores are killing the profession of pharmacy.  By having the chains put up with this bullshit, they are just showing the PBM’s that we are nothing but fucking whores who’s time and education are worth absolutely nothing (because we will fill the Rx even if we lose money on it AND reward patients for abusive behavior).

I’ll just make another point, that the PBMs, the insurance companies that hire them, and the pharmacists who work for these companies are nothing but fucking idiots.  They are so blind to the big picture, that they have NO CLUE that independent pharmacies are the counterweight to a huge big deep dicking thats on the horizon.  Let me elaborate:

You cut your reimbursement so much that it drives all the other pharmacies out of business.  Sure you make a zillion dollars and your CEO can afford that beach-house.  Sure you traitors to the profession get that fat bonus for saving “all this money” and the CEO strokes your cock a bit for being a “good little insurance-company pharmacist” for saving their plan a ton of cash with your bullshit cost-analysis and P&T handjobs.  However now all there is left are Walgreens, CVS, and Rite-Aid.  Three huge companies that will gladly pay that million dollar anti-trust lawsuit fine for the sole ability to COMPLETELY FUCK OVER YOUR INSURANCE PLAN AND RUIN YOUR PBM.  How?  Easy.  The men in suits from Walgreens come to your insurance company and want to talk about their contract:

“So, since there are no independents left, we want to renegotiate our contract.  We want cost + 25% + $15 for EVERYTHING.  Oh? You don’t like that? Well then I guess you’re going to lose a few hundred stores in your network.  Oh, and see CVS and Rite-Aid? They want the same deal that we want.  Man, its going to suck for you when the members who use your plan cant go ANYWHERE ELSE to fill their prescriptions because your shit reimbursement rates put the independents all out of business.  Why don’t you think about that for a few hours while we go to lunch with the CVS and Rite-Aid execs and discuss if your plan fits within our business model.  Oh, and we don’t care if you sue us for anti-trust, because we’ll make up that fine in a month from this revised contract.  Im sure that your members will understand.  Chao!”

You have painted yourself in a corner with only a few HUGE chains left.  Huge chains with a TON of stores that your members are forced to go to because there are nobody left.  Your penny pinching now cost you your anal-hymen.  It fucking kills me how people shop at Walmart because they have done the exact same thing to the manufacturers of household items because there are no little mom and pop shops around anymore to offer any competition.  They can name their own price, and that price is a few steps up from FREE.

So when you fill that Rx and see the fat negative reimbursement and your pharmacy system blows up with warnings that you’re losing your ass; think of me.  Think of where you are going to work when the toilet of pharmacy finally flushes and we’re all out of a job.  I’ll see you fuckers in the unemployment line with a huge smile on my face and a huge bowl of “I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO” for you to eat.

A pharmacist example for non-pharmacists.

Holy shit, its almost been a year.

No, Im not dead.  Just took a small vacation from the site.  Family, work, etc.  It happens.

Ive been going through the (years worth) of comments posted to this site, and from what I can see, they seem to follow a common trend:

  1. Im an asshole, and all pharmacists are assholes.  All of them, but when its time to refill your Norco they are your savior and best friend.
  2. Fibromyalgia is real, I’m an asshole for thinking otherwise.  Santa is also real.  Ever notice how spell-checkers always get hung up on fibromyalgia like its a word that doesn’t exist?  Interesting. (OH COME ON, LET ME POKE SOME FUN)
  3. Tell me your entire life story to justify your usage of pain pills to try to convince yourself that you’re not a crackhead.  If you don’t think you are a crackhead, then you probably aren’t. Convincing the internet with some 10 page paper on how you got hurt, and SSI denied you, and you’re on ALL THESE MEDICATIONS and the mean pharmacist wont refill them early because your crackhead kid’s friend “stole them”, blah blah blah isn’t going to help your issue.

That pretty much sums it up.  Im sad for humanity.

On a lighter note, I want to put something into perspective for those non-pharmacists out there who think we just stand there, drink coffee, and deny your pain pills while laughing manically.  Just bare with me.

Imagine you own a small cell-phone dealership.  You carry all sorts of cell-phones, from the latest Android, to the iPhone, to the big bricks in the bag from back when we all had mullets.  So many fucking cell phones people come in and go “holy fuck! you have a lot of cell phones”.  You also have a big button to make them all ring at once just because you are that much of a badass.  Is your dick hard from cell-phone envy? Mine is; I’m typing this one handed actually.

Anyway, a customer comes in with a letter from T-Mobile.  The letter says “Dear badass cell-phone dealer, please allow my member to purchase ONE iPHONE”.  You happily take the letter, and give your customer a shiny new iPhone.  Your customer is so fucking happy because his baby-momma keeps on calling, and his old phone just isn’t working as well as it should be.  You go to the cash register;

“That’ll be $200 for the phone please” you ask with a smile.

“What the fuck! I don’t have any money! This is supposed to be free! I have a VISA card” the customer yells rudely like you insulted his mother

“Okay, do you have the card so I can process it through VISA?” you respond.

“No.  Call up VISA and get the number for me” as the crackhe..er..customer caresses his new iFre..er..iPhone.

Let me pause the exercise right here.  Would you, as a customer who goes ANYWHERE make the store clerk/cashier/etc CALL YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY for your credit card number?  Am I the only one who thinks if you asked this you would be laughed all the way out the front door?  No? Good.  Lets continue.

After 20 mins, you finally get the VISA number of your BELOVED customer.  You punch it into your little device and an error spits out:

“TRANSACTION DENIED, VISA CUSTOMER MUST USE ANDROID PHONE”

Oh shit, looks like Google is fucking Visa.  You gingerly tell the customer that his card will not pay for his nice iPhone because his credit card company wants him to use an Android phone.

“WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN! T-MOBILE SAID I NEED AN iPHONE!”

You kindly explain that if he wants an iPhone, that he would either have to pay for it, or you can contact T-Mobile to see which Android phone would be the best fit for you so Visa will cover the cost.

The customer throws the iPhone at you, and storms out mumbling that the cell-phone shop down the street will get him his iPhone.  You restock the iPhone and proceed to repeat this same conversation about 4 times before you get to go home.

So the story ends.  That customer was a dick right? I mean it wasn’t the pharmaci..er..cell store owner’s fault that his insur-….credit card company didnt cover his iPho..damn…medications!  I mean what kind of asshole would blow up at someone who is doing their best to help them out?

One word answers this question: EVERYONE.  EVERY-FUCKING-SINGLE-ONE.  Welcome to retail pharmacy, here is your tough skin and alcohol habit.

It sucks to get yelled at, and it sucks even more when you are getting yelled at over something that is 100% out of your control.  If you are one of those “Oh, well they make 100k a year to get yelled at” idiots go fuck yourself.  Any decent human-fucking-being with a soul doesn’t like to be yelled at day in and day out while doing their job of helping people.  Especially when you are getting yelled at while you are trying to HELP them.  The money is there for our knowledge to keep you from doing something stupid and dying, not to be your own personal fucking punching bag.

Its good to be back bitches.

The FDA obviously hates the public and needs to lay off the crack pipe.

Submitted by a shitpot full of people, the FDA has gotten this wonderful idea to allow people (read: idiots) to buy Rx prescriptions OTC using a kiosk rather than a Doctor to issue the Rx.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/apr/29/fda-may-let-patients-buy-drugs-without-prescriptio/?page=all

The jist of the article (for those too lazy to read it), is that you would go to a kiosk, and via a handy flow chart be able to obtain an Rx for antibiotics (!!) hypertension medication, cholestrol medicine, etc without seeing a doctor.  Your helpful pharmacist would help you from then on out.  Yeah, as if that’s going to magically make you become more compliant.  I’ll get right on that after my job as the vicodin-police, insurance agent, and your personal fucking nanny are done.

Lets take a journal into sarcastic TAP-land:

I think this is a completely fucking great idea!  We all know that Rx medications are completely safe, require no professional monitoring, and can cause no harm to the patient.  I mean who in the fuck cares if your potassium goes through the roof when you’re on an ACE-I, or if you get rhabo while on that statin.  This whole Rx concept is obviously a cartel plot by the medical industry to milk you out of copay money to line the pockets of BMW driving doctors as they light their cigars with your crisp $100 bills gotten from your copays.  Its not like those doctors know any more than the crackhead off the street…..

Shit, this whole idea of people just making shit up at kiosks to get a truckload of antibiotics is such a good idea!  We all know that antibiotic resistance is just a big fucking lie made up by the pharmaceutical industry so they can push their ‘newer’ expensive antibiotics to leech the consumer dry.  In fact, all of medicine is a big fucking lie meant to milk you out of your hard earned cash.  See this MD/PharmD degree? Thats just made up letters that we got from a mail-order school.

Travelling back to real-life common-sense land:

This whole clusterfuck was meant to save the patient money they would have spent seeing a doctor.  Because thats SO MUCH FUCKING LESS than say a hospital admit because your potassium shot up to 12, your kidneys stopped working because you have renal issues and had to get that ACE-I, or because MRSA is eating your face off.  Not to mention the tons of other issues that come with taking A CONTROLLED FUCKING POISON that externally influences certain enzymes and receptors in your body thereby circumventing your body’s own natural regulation pathways.  Oh shit, you didn’t know that most (if not all) drugs did that? Actually I’m sure you probably thought medications were made from unicorn farts that magically made you better.

Here is a fucking great idea, why don’t you use your doctor to DIAGNOSE whats wrong with you, and have the pharmacist PICK OUT THE RIGHT MEDICATION.   I mean we all know that 90% of our time is just faxing the doctor for a drug change because its the insurance company, not your doctor who decides what drug you get.  Tell us whats wrong with you, any lab values that we might find useful, and let US pick out the most effective and affordable drug.  Pharmacists are immune to the drug-rep masturbation, we (for the most part) know our shit, and our ass is on the line with you by default if the shit goes south.  The hard cold fact is that MD’s are good at figuring out whats wrong with you, and WE are good at what drugs to use.  Same coin? Different side? Sound familiar?  Obviously not to the FDA.

If the APhA is all about this, its just more evidence that they are focused at planting new pharmacy trees while the retail pharmacist forest behind them is burning to the ground.  Why are they always ignoring what needs to be fixed in lieu of added work for no added money for us?

Oh, and if you are thinking “Well it works in Mexico”, take a second and think about what happens if you take something and die in Mexico.  Do you get to sue someone? Do you get compensation from the manufacturers? Nope, you get a dirt-nap and a “Oh thats too bad”.

But really, what the fuck do I know.  I just count by 5’s all day while watching Dr Oz and drinking coffee.

Shooting yourself in the foot, 10% at a time.

Something bad happened in California this year.  Something very very bad.  Something so improperly thought out that it could ONLY happen in California.  Something so horrible that it forces you to wonder if the person who came up with this was drunk, stoned, or just an absolute fucking idiot.

I’m of course, talking about the MediCal 10% reimbursement cut.  For those not in the Stupidty State, MediCal is our implementation of Medicaid.

Let me back up to explain some stuff before I go on this rant so those not in pharmacy will understand.

You know when I bitch about getting paid $1.50 over my cost of the medication fee?  Thats called our dispensing fee.  Thats the amount that I make over the cost of the medication that covers my labor, the vials, the power, the tech who fills it, the clerk who has to take your annoying phone call, etc.  I’m hesitant to call it a ‘profit’, because in most cases its not.  It allows us to stay in business.

Now, back to the rant.

Usual reimbursement from MediCal is our drug cost (give or take a few percent to account for wholesaler markups, etc) plus a dispensing fee of a single digit number (less than 10 bucks for those drunk at home).  If I dispense, say, Fukitol, with a ballpark (yet entirely reasonable) price of $200, I can expect to make about $210 bucks.  Those slow out there may be saying “HOLY SHIT, YOU GOT $210 BUCKS FOR THAT PRESCRIPTION! PHARMACY IS A GOLD MINE!”  For those who think this, go work for the State of California, because you are a fucking retard.  Yes, we did get reimbursed by the state a whopping $210 dollars, but unless I can wave a magic wand and make drugs out of thin air, my wholesaler wants $200 out of that $210 so he can pay HIS bills.  So I get $10, which really is fucking good.

So California; despite having Silicon Valley, Google, dot.millionaire companies, San Francisco and LA (that combined pay more taxes in one second than we will all make in a lifetime) is broke.  Go fucking figure.  They decide to whack the MediCal reimbursement for drugs by 10% to stem the bleeding of throwing the baby out with the bath water.  This first was voted into effect on June 1st.  Us pharmacy and medicine peeps said “HOLY SHIT, YOU CANT DO THIS” and did what Americans typically do, tie it up in the courts (read on and you’ll see why).  Well, recently they lost the injunction, so the cuts happened.

Now you may be thinking “gee TAP, 10% cut in your fee isn’t so bad, thats only like a buck”.  Therein lies the problem.  MediCal didn’t cut our dispensing fee, they cut THE WHOLE FUCKING REIMBURSEMENT.

Quick and Dirty:

Drug costs 200 bucks.  We get paid 210 bucks.  Take 10% off of that 210 bucks and you’re left with 190 bucks.  The drug still fucking costs the pharmacy 200 bucks.  We make a whopping -10 dollars.  Thats right, the pharmacy LOSES 10 dollars (in this case) with EACH FUCKING HIGH DOLLAR TRADE NAME FILL.  Throw in some chemo drugs like Xeloda that costs the pharmacy THOUSANDS or HIV drugs at 600 bucks each, and you have yourself a closed pharmacy.

But no, it gets better.  You see, MediCal is in bed with the drug manufacturers.  The drug manufacturers give “kickbacks…er..REBATES” to the state to use THEIR  product.  Why else do you think Nasonex is the ONLY nasal steroid instead of generic Flonase.  Why do you think generic Morphine ER isn’t covered, but BRAND ONLY Kadian is?  The state is getting a rebate for having these on their formulary.

So not only do we lose money on each brand-name prescription, but we are forced to use brand name for certain drug classes.

See how absolutely fucked this is?  So whats a pharmacy to do?

Easy, send the patient somewhere else for brand name drugs.  California Business and Profession code prevents the selling of products for less than what it costs you.  Its part of the anti-predatory pricing laws.

Does this suck for the MediCal patients who need HIV/Actos/Nexium/Kadian/etc? Yup, it sure does.  Our hearts are out to those patients who can’t get their drugs filled, but what other choice do we have?  The chains can absorb the cost for a time until they pull the plug, and the independents cant absorb any of that.

Oh no, it doesn’t stop there.  You know how I said that the cuts were put into law June 1st but got held up in court?  Well they made the cuts retroactive.  Pharmacies are going to get a BILL from MediCal for the 10% difference for EVERY FUCKING PRESCRIPTION they filled since June 1st.

If you are an independent store owner, give money to the Pharmacy Defense Fund (if you haven’t already).  If you’re a district manager for the chains, get your head out of your ass and tell your people to STOP FILLING BRAND NAME DRUGS or you might be out of a job.

I’ll leave you with that.  Don’t send me the bill to cleanup the mess of your head exploding.

How to succeed at retail pharmacy according to the chains

So during my 0.004 second lunch during the clusterfuck of a day after a holiday, I checked out this article on DrugTopics.  Nothing special at face value, however this paragraph really bugged me:

Several factors led Morton’s executives to make the decision to sell most of its retail pharmacy business. “It’s the declining reimbursement environment, mandatory mail-order plans, the closed networks that are starting to become popular across the country, $4 generics programs, and predatory audits,” Morton said.

Both health insurance companies and government programs are slashing reimbursements, according to Morton, a practice that is “not providing enough margins for us to serve patients.” In addition, the purpose of audits conducted by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) has changed from detection of fraudulent claims to making extra money for the PBMs, according to Morton. “They are looking for administrative mistakes so they can look to recoup claims. It is a revenue-generating technique,” Morton said.

For those not in the industry, Walgreens has a Pharmacy Benefit Manager called Walgreens Health Initiative.  This is similar to how CVS/Caremark work, and the infamous Merck/Medco.  Now for those of you who work retail, this whole article makes perfect sense.

  1. Have your PBM give ridiculous low reimbursement rates to kill the independents.
  2. Be first in line to “take your failing pharmacy off of your hands for you”
  3. If they refuse, audit the shit out of them for every little fucking thing until you bankrupt them
  4. See step 2
  5. Profit!

Funny, how it’s technically illegal for a bunch of independents to meet to discuss if they are going to take a PBM contract due to antitrust laws, but the major chains and their PBM backers can pull this kind of bullshit.  Of course the major chains can bribe (yes, I said bribe…er.. LOBBY) the corrupt government to look the other way.

Having gone through a dozen+ audits, the article is 100% right.  The auditors aren’t looking for blatant fraud and abuse, they are looking to generate profits.  When you fill an Rx, if you mark a faxed back OK as ‘written’ in your software (instead of a ‘faxed’), that’s grounds for them to take the entire cost of the Rx out of your next check.  I bet, with a bit of digging, you’ll find that these auditors actually get an incentive-pay based upon how many ‘errors’ they find on the pharmacy end.  I will also bet that Caremark doesn’t audit CVS stores, WHI doesn’t audit Walgreens, and Merck doesn’t audit the Medco mail-order chains.  Even if they did audit them, do you really think they would take the money out of their next check? Isn’t that taking money away from themselves?

Sometimes the audits pick up things that are just mistakes, like when you have a Robatussin-DM in your computer as 1 bottle of 273mL and your floater bills 273 bottles by mistake thinking that it’s in the computer as per-cc instead of per-bottle.  Those I can see, but taking back the ENTIRE reimbursement over a 28 day supply vs 30 day supply for eye drops is petty and bullshit.  We have the Rx, its legit, yet you are back-charging us for the entire amount due to a clerical error (and a stupid one at that).  The Rx wasn’t filled fraudulently, and it was filled in good faith with no intent to fraud.  However try to argue this point with the auditors and you’ll just get a blank stare and 100 more ‘errors’ that will make your next reimbursement turn into a bill.

So the million dollar question is: Where is APhA in this mess?

Antitrust, Chain/PBM’s, Independents and You

Think of this senerio:

The owners of 3 independant pharmacies go out for dinner.  During the dinner they talk about how (for a very accurate yet hypothetical example) low MedImpacts MAC’s are compared to other insurance companies.  During the discussions they rabble on about how they cannot do business at COST + $0.75 and jointly decide to fax their contract termination letters into MedImpact.  That, right there, violates the Anti-Trust laws.

Now think of this:

CVS/Caremark (a pharmacy/PBM merger) decides that MedImpact doesnt cut the mustard.  They threaten to terminate their contract which will effect a couple hundred stores.  MedImpact tries to play the hero and refuses to negotiate, and now 300+ stores are off of MedImpacts provider list.

Three independent pharmacies get dinged for Anti-Trust behavior, while CVS/Walgreens/Rite-Aid(?) can nix hundreds of their stores without violating anything.  Tell me if that was the intent or spirit of that law.

Since we’re talking about the exploitation of the Anti-Trust laws that were made to protect citizens from such behavior; lets take CVS/Caremark.  Now a while ago we (meaning every independent in town) underwent a Caremark audit.  Now considering those auditors are paid by the infraction, and they will cancel out any prescription that was written for tablets but filled will caps (even if the medication did not come in cap dosage form) among other totally bullshit non-fraudulent-act (like the MD instead of the NP checked off), do you really think CVS gets held to the same exact standards by Caremark as us non-CVS stores?  Have you ever thought about how shady and corrupt a PBM looks taking money away from the direct competitors of their affiliated pharmacy (probably in a futile hope of putting them so far under they will sell out to *their* affiliated Pharmacy chain)?   CVS Pharmacists: Do the Caremark auditors come into your store and audit your records?  Since you’re affiliated, aren’t they just taking away from themselves? Or do you guys write off the store losses by filling ‘fraudulent prescriptions’ thereby making your store less profitable and thereby pay less taxes?  Marvel at my TinFoil hat and how its shiny!

I wonder if Medco audits its mail order pharmacy, god knows they love to audit us independants.  I wonder if all of the big PBM/Retail anti-trusters have some sort of unspoken fraternity-boy truce going around leaving the independants/grocery-outlets/walmarts on the audit chopping block.

Naaaaah, that would be in violation of the anti-trust laws that prevented 3 small pharmacies from speaking out against a dont-give-a-shit-about-you PBM.

HealthNet & CVS/Caremark – Screwing the pooch for 2010!

Sorry for the lack of updates.  Between vacation, work/life, and lack of good and funny rants things have been sorta slow here.  I intend to fix that for 2010. One rant twice monthly if it kills me.  Too many posts don’t get the awesome comments, and too little makes people lose interest in the site.  Twice a month is a happy medium.

On with the rant!

As you all well have known, we are in 2010 and we are one week past the dreaded first of the year mayhem.  If you are a pharmacist, and have not died from alcohol induced liver failure you obviously have first hand experience about HealthNet (Or their processor, CVS/Caremark) screwing up SO bad that I can’t even believe that they are still in business.

For those not “in the know”, lets set a few things straight so people don’t get confused.

  • You have Medicare + Medicaid
    • You have no deductible (of usually $250 – $300 depending on plan)
    • You have little to no premiums
    • No doughnut holes (ie: the coverage gap)

Pretty much if you are on the state tit because you cannot take care of yourself, you get all the benefits of a Medicare part D plan without the annoying doughnut hole, deductibles, and screaming high copay tiers.  Nice isn’t it?  The rest of us however have the initial deductible, blah blah blah.

Now, lets rewind to HealthNet’s Medicare part D plan oh, a week ago.  At least in California, NONE of the “Dual Eligibles” (the people with Medicare AND a state welfare insurance) were flagged in HealthNet’s computer system as being on a state welfare program.  Which means that almost all of the people who should of had NO deductible suddenly got one (with a $200 copay for their Advair)!  Compound this with the usual first of the year plan changing clusterfuck and you have yourself a 2 hour hold time with HealthNets pharmacy help desk!

Oh, lets not forget that HealthNet also didnt flag generic Vicodin and Septra DS as being covered items.  So for one insurance company, we have a shitpot full of welfare-recipients pissed off at us because “we” want to charge them more than $1.10 or $3.20 AND their vicodin is no longer covered.  So whats a pharmacist to do?

Easy.  Let the fucking patient get off of their asses and take care of it themselves.  Why should we have to suffer the fallout because some computer idiot over at CVS/Caremark (which I wonder if CVS pharmacies had this problem) totally fucked up the data import from California MediCal.  Yeah, I’m a heartless asshole but I’m tired of being the human fucking shield for these PBM’s who make more per prescription than I do.  What happened with HealthNet was completely unacceptable and embarrassing.  Of course HealthNet/CVS/Caremark will continue to collect their fat ass subsidization checks from California as they tinkle in our faces with their whopping $3 above cost reimbursement.  Here me now HealthNet, unless I see some MAJOR lawsuits from you to CVS/Caremark over this bullshit, I will do everything in my power to switch my Dual Eligible patients to any plan that is not administered by you.

Oh, and just icing on the cake, I got the fax yesterday evening from HealthNet that everything was fixed.  Thats 8 days of chaos due to  a company that makes more in 1 week than I’ll see in 10 years.

Post your hateful HealthNet comments (or funny first of the year stories) and lets see if I get a response from them (and hopefully not a C&D letter).