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Surviving Medication Woes - Delays

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

January 3rd, 2020


Delays upon delays upon delays. I've had two months-worth of delays to my medication deliveries. To put it lightly, it’s been frustrating! And with my luck, the delays occurred over the holidays! Some of the issues were entirely out of my hands, but some I could have prevented with a little foresight.


Okay, what am I talking about? Here's how everything has played out over the past two months...


First, I came up with the bright idea to change one of my medications. Well, the idea wasn’t completely my own, but the suggestion to change one medication over the other was mine. When I changed the medication, the prescription was sent to my mail-in pharmacy and took nearly two weeks to arrive at my doorstep. Normally this isn’t a problem, but since I was completely out of the medication I was ditching, and my doctor didn't write me a new script for the old medication, it meant two weeks without new or old script.


Next, my specialty pharmacy charged me instead of the co-pay assistance for the copay on my specialty medication. Those of you taking specialty medications know that even copays can be expensive, so needless to say it was an unexpected and unpleasant surprise! The pharmacy’s recommended fix was to cancel the current order, wait a week, then re-order. Well, the order could not be re-processed for two weeks, which meant a delay in my routine dose.


Avoid medicatino delays by looking to the horizon to anticipate possible problems
Anticipate the storm on the horizon--in this case, the storm is medication delays

Then, the next time I ordered my specialty medication the order went through perfectly fine...or so I thought. Two days later (the day before the medication was scheduled for delivery), I received a call from my doctor’s office saying I need another TB screen to approve my medication. The problem was, I had plans to be out-of-town for the holidays. So I went for lab work, then waited patiently for any signs that the results were in and my medication was approved. The sign came a week later.


Finally, I re-ordered the medication. Due to the holidays and increased workload of delivery services, my delivery (which is normally scheduled for deliver within two days) was scheduled five days out. This whole debacle resulted in another late dose.


Trust me, this isn’t normal! And it can't possibly be just me that experiences such complications! Looking back on the past two months, I do realize there are steps I could have taken to handle these situations better and prevent further delays.

Doing All You Can to Prevent Delays

Since so much of the process is out of our hands, sometimes there are going to be delays. In my experience, the delays typically come about when starting a new treatment as your insurance company contemplates whether or not they want to approve your prescription. For example, I’ve had immense difficulties getting insurance companies to approve topical gels (such as Diclofenac Sodium Gel) to treat peripheral arthritis pain, but I don't have enough experience with insurance company approval processes to explain that complication!


However, some of the delays mentioned above could have been avoided, or at least minimized. While I could not have anticipated the necessary TB screen for prior-approval, I could have prevented the delay when changing medications. Here’s some tips I’ve learned over the past few months:


1. Ask Your Doctor About the Chances of a Speedy Approval

No, your doctor can’t guarantee what your insurance will and won’t approve, but she may have a pretty good idea. If she expects delays, she might have a recommendation to help in the meantime.


2. Confirm the Pharmacy with Your Doctor or Nurse

This was my mistake. Normally, the doctor or nurse asks me which pharmacy I’d prefer, but the topic never came up during my last rheumatology visit. But I know the drill and I should have checked.


3. Consider Time of Year When Ordering

Some holidays fall in the middle of the week, and some times of the year are more stressful for delivery services. If you need to order your medication for delivery, plan that order wisely.


4. Plan Ahead For Scheduled Travel

Sure, this sounds like common sense. I ordered a week in advance of my scheduled trip, and the medication is typically delivered two days after delivery. But sometimes, complications with the order or the insurance can’t be anticipated, so if possible, schedule well-ahead of a trip, just in case.


5. Find the Best Course of Action When Navigating Insurance Issues

When my medication was accidentally charged to my account on file, I went with the first course of action offered by the pharmacy. In hindsight, I was more concerned with negating the copay charge than getting my medication on-time (or at least I didn't account for delays that may result from re-ordering the medication). Instead, I could have asked for more options and chosen a plan that not only resolved the charge but also ensured my next scheduled dose was on-time.


6. Request a Signature on Medication Deliveries

If you take an expensive medication like I do, the last thing you want is for the medication to go missing. I know I couldn’t pay out-of-pocket to replace a medication lost in the mail. Instead, always request signature upon delivery!


If you have lots of experience ordering medication, especially specialty medication, then these tips are probably common-knowledge. They may even seem common-sense. Then again, after years of ordering medications for delivery, I still find myself faced with new complications and new delays! Hopefully you can use these tips to anticipate and avoid any setbacks to receiving much-needed prescription orders!


-Jessica

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