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The Wait



So, I've worked in a pharmacy setting for a decade and there is one question that always invariably comes up.

"It's just putting pills in a bottle, why does it take so long?"

This attitude is so very outdated. When our grandparents were children, this might well have been true. I'm sure that you could get in and out of your pharmacy within minutes. There were far fewer regulations that had to be followed, there was little or no insurance and it was all paper file, and the preferred medication was still alcoholic in nature and didn't need a prescription.

Today, everybody and their brother and sister is on a medication. INsurance companies give instant feedback about coverage and even though your pharmacist knows the loop-holes to get your stuff covered in many cases, it takes actual phonecalls to the insurance company or your doctor to get it worked out. (Incidentally, how long did it take you to talk to a person the last time you called your insurance company?) Not only that, but the doctors typically don't know how to prescribe the drugs they are giving you in accordance with state and federal laws.

During one instance of this famous question I listed above, we had a doctor who decided that he would try to E-Scribe a controlled substance. In my state, this is not a legal practice due to the higher risk of fraud. The doctor insisted that it was, and because the customer had a better working relationship with his doctor he assumed that the doctor was correct. It took me little time to pull up the state law and even littler time to relate a story about how pharmacists had gotten hefty fines and jail time for accepting this very type of prescription. Still, the customer was sure his doctor was in the right.

Another instance of this question had me working for the better part of an hour to get in touch with an insurance company, find out in what instance a presctiption would be covoered, call the doctor back to find out if his patient qualified for that, and then resubmitting the claim. The customer's response was "well, I still don't see why it takes so long to put the pills in the bottle and sort the insurance out later." In fact, you do have that option, but you have to pay the full price of the prescription up front and then a paper bill with your insurance. Then you can get out of the pharmacy in moments.

The last thing that people don't realize is that while they may be there and see no one else around, there are other prescriptions being filled. They're the ones the doctor's offices are calling or faxing or emailing in. Just because you're actually physically in the store doesn't always mean you're going to take presedence. In fact, some pharmacies do work on a triage type system. If a doctor calls in and says their patient is on their way, that person is still put in the same cue as someone who is standing physically in the store. Because doctor's offices tend to call with batches of people at specific times during the day, this means you could suddenly find yourself 10th in line with no other soul in sight.

One's best bet is to have the doctors fax in the script whenever possible. Know when your doctor typically calls thier scripts in. Call your pharmacy before that time and update your insurance information and make sure they can find you in their system. Call the pharmacy one last time before going to pick up your order to make sure its ready, and then go on in. If you're in an emergency situation, make sure the pharmacist knows that at the outset. Like I said, oft times its like triage and if you're polite, respectful, and explain your concern, many times you will be pushed through as fast as humanly possible.

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I find myself in the pharmacy on a bi-weekly schedule, mainly due to my son's ADHD meds. I am always, I mean ALWAYS behind some older lady or gentleman who has a $6 co-pay but wants the pharmacy tech to call this place and that place to find out how it can be given CHEAPER. "Is this the generic, I want the generic?" or "Last month my can't-stop-peeing-myself-medication was only $4, why is it $4./25 this month?"

I don't mind waiting for valid things, but these people drive me (and I am sure YOU) bonkers!

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