I Can’t Read the Prescription, but the Price is Clear

sticker-shock

You know it’s bad when the pharmacist’s eyes bulge after she scans your prescription and asks if you are aware of the cost.

I didn’t join in her incredulousness. That moment happened with her co-worker days before.

Thursday during my morning process of getting ready for work, I reached for one of three prescription eye drops. I leaned my head back and upturned the 5 mL bottle to instill the first of three daily doses. Just a puff of air.

No problem. I keep a bottle in my purse for the midday dose. At work, I logged on to CVS.com for a refill and pickup. I was out of refills and had to call my eye doctor to call it in. A few hours later, when I received a text from CVS, I didn’t bother checking the full message and made my way to the nearby store.

On autopilot, I gave the pharmacist my last and first names followed by DOB, feeling self-conscious. She couldn’t find the ‘script, as I’ve heard it called. A wave of annoyance swept through me.

Had I bothered to read the text I would’ve learned that the pharmacy could not fill my prescription because they were out. Really? How many of us are walking around in these streets with glaucoma?

At the drop off desk, I asked if it were possible for them to get a transfer from another CVS to fill my order. She informed me that they had only a bottle on site.

“That’s fine. All I need is a bottle for one month.”

She frowned. “It says here I have to give you a three-month supply.”

“I don’t need three months. Perhaps that was a data entry error. I usually fill three different prescriptions at the same time, but I’ll come back for the other two at another time.”

I caught a look of pity on her face. She told me that my insurance had recently changed the rules on how my prescription could be sold. It had to be sold in a three-month supply or it wouldn’t be covered. She was not allowed to sell me a single bottle at a time. I told her that was a problem because a) I was out and b) it was nowhere in my budget to buy a three-month supply when I also had two other prescriptions to fill.

I said all this without knowing the price, so I asked.

I felt like causing a scene right then and there. 5 mL is less than than a pocket-size bottle of anti-bacterial gel from Bath and Body Works. It’s barely noticeable when I tuck it away in my pocket en route to the ladies’ room at work.

I asked the pharmacist to confirm whether this new policy was an insurance thing or a CVS thing. It was the insurance. Taking pity on me, she offered to give me one of the three bottles right then and let me pay when I returned to pick up the remaining two bottles the next day.  I didn’t ask questions and didn’t tell her I planned to work from home the next day, the Friday before Labor Day.

I was barely out of the store when I called my aunt, the lucky recipient of all such calls, like when I learned that in addition to the glaucoma in my right eye, I had developed a cataract. She was baffled, but somehow calmed me as I ranted and walked back to my office.

A text from CVS on Friday sent me reeling again, and I posted my disgust on Facebook. The few comments and reactions let me know I wasn’t being dramatic. That feeling was reinforced when I picked up the two bottles the following Wednesday.

I had come to terms that I was nearly canceling out my recent credit card payment when the pharmacist became bug-eyed. I wanted to laugh, but couldn’t. To add insult to injury, the CVS system would not accept my phone number so that I could earn points on my purchase. The pharmacist told me to keep my receipt and call customer service.

Damn right I’m calling customer service to get points on my $94.28.


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