Prescription for Picking Up Your (Psoriasis) Meds
Every month I take a trip or two to the pharmacy. It’s a time-honored tradition of treating a chronic condition like psoriasis. But when I go to pick up my medication I’ve become conditioned to expect the unexpected.
I first began to order my own medication refills as a child. My parents trained me to call the pharmacy to request more medicine. Back then the pharmacies still filled prescriptions in drawers that reminded me of the card catalog drawers in libraries. It would take a minute to pull out the correct drawer, find the scrip, and begin filling the order.
The surprises came when I would go to pick up the orders. Sometimes the medications cost more than we thought. Other times the order needed a special authorization that the pharmacy forgot to mention. It took a few extra days for scrips that required mixing, such as coal tar mixed into an ointment. After a while I noticed more pharmacies refusing to fill those mixes so I had to go somewhere else. I never quite knew what happened behind those windows where the pharmacist works, I just saw that it didn’t always work out the way I anticipated.
Many different scenarios play out in this process that begins with a doctor writing a prescription. Through my experiences with getting medications, over the years I’ve catalogued some tips that can help you get the right medication, at the right price, in a timely manner.
Ask Questions Before Leaving the Doctor’s Office
I’ve had doctors who are great communicators. They explain every last detail regarding the medication they are prescribing to me, including how much to apply or use, when, what side effects to look out for, etc. Other times I’ve had doctors who rush, thinking of what they need to do next, or forget to explain the details for some other reason.
Either way, if I’m not satisfied with my understanding of how to use the new prescription, I make sure I find out before leaving. Asking questions before you leave the doctor’s office is a great way to ensure you understand exactly what to expect when taking a medication.
Go Over the Directions with the Pharmacist
When I pick up medications the pharmacy clerk checks if I need a consult with the pharmacist. I’m usually in a hurry, but that check can confirm the doctor’s orders. It can also provide any additional information I may have missed at my appointment such as potential side effects or whether to take a medication on a full or empty stomach.
Know the Cost of Your Medications
Recently the pharmacy clerk asked for over three hundred dollars for one of my psoriasis systemic medications. The previous time it was a five dollars co-pay according to my insurance plan. Instead of immediately paying whatever the charge, I politely asked why it cost so much more.
I found out the brand name version of the pills cost much more since the doctor did not mark “brand name only” on the prescription. A quick call to the doctor cleared up the discrepancy, saving me hundreds of dollars.
You can save money, and misunderstanding, if you pay attention to how much medications should cost. I check my medical insurance’s prescription price structure annually when it renews to catch any changes. When surprises arise at the pharmacy I can ask the right questions to get the correct price.
Ask About Payment Assistance
Some people don’t have insurance coverage or the co-pays and deductibles for certain medications are cost prohibitive. As a specialty class medication, the co-pay for the biologic (injectable) I use is much higher than any of my other medications. The pharmacist told me I could call the pharmaceutical company to ask for assistance on that high co-pay. Turns out they offered to cover most of my cost for the medication each month since I qualify for the assistance. Some restrictions do apply, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you need help with paying for medications, the National Psoriasis Foundation provides resources to help patients navigate help to pay for treatments.
Appeal Insurance Denials
With my relatively new job came a new insurance company and system. I was shocked when I found out that insurance wouldn’t pay for the full dose of my medication after six months. For some patients, there is a step-down on that medication. But my doctor prescribed the full dose for my severe psoriasis.
The doctor’s office tried a few times to secure approval for me but failed. At that point, I made a number of phone calls to challenge the decision. Eventually, they approved the full dose.
If you ultimately are denied coverage, check to find out your insurance company’s appeal process for denials of coverage. The NPF can also assist in these situations.
Finally, if something doesn’t feel right about the medication when you pick it up, you can always refuse to pay for it at that time. My pharmacy will hold the medication as I make a phone call or return the next day. The pharmacy can also help make calls to clarify costs, quantities, etc.
With a little diligence, you can successfully pick up the right medication for the right price when you go to the pharmacy.
Getting it to clear your psoriasis is another matter!
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