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Like many Mainers, I have been enjoying the benefits of the Maine prescription drug program. Actually, I’ve only had to use it for a pain killer, which I fill about once a year, averaging about one pill a month. I’ve been lucky, up to now.
For a month I’ve had to take 2 different pills a day, having eaten myself into a bad spot with cholesterol, salt, and sugar. This means I have to sign up for the new prescription program, because the wonderful Maine program has been side-tracked.
My mail has been loaded with all sorts of “information” about the new regime, most of which has only informed me that the whole thing is utterly confusing and, apparently, designed to benefit both the pharmaceutical and insurance people.
There were all sorts of “deadline” dates for enrollment in the plan and a lot of threats about penalties for being late. Included in the mail was a 97 page booklet telling me everything they thought I would need to know, and more. It is probably the worst written thing I have ever had to read. I spent almost two hours trying to make some sense out of it. The last ten pages or so were devoted to lists of acceptable insurance companies one has to use. This was the biggest stumbling block to understanding the stupid thing.
I turned back to the first page where there was an 800 number to call for signing up, and, hopefully, some help in getting through the quagmire.
Now came the second act of the horror show. The usual Spanish lady came on, informing me that if I wanted to continue in Spanish I had to punch button number eight. She was followed by an English speaking robot who wanted my social security and Medicare numbers. The first went through OK, but the second was repeated to me incorrectly three times. I just jumped over her and, as instructed, repeated the words, “interested in enrollment”. This brought me to a nice live lady in Tucson, Arizona. I gave her my Medicare number to be sure I was being properly identified.
I had copied the names and dosages of all 3 pills, which was good because I was asked for them. In a bit, after verifying my name, address, and birthdate, I was asked which pharmacy I preferred. This was easy. Okay, I was told I was all set. I would be transferred to another lady who would give me 3 insurance company’s offers and I cold chose one. Then, I would be properly inducted. I was asked to hold on while the transfer was made. I held until the dreaded message – (with the annoying whistle) cam on telling me that if I wished to make another call, etc., etc., etc.
I’d been cut off. I knew my phone was OK because I’d been informed that the robot’s getting my numbers wrong was a too frequent occurrence, causing much mayhem and trouble.
Okay – start all over again. I skipped over the Spanish lady and ended up with some nice man in Pittsburgh, PA, who told me there was no way he could contact Tucson. I would have to go through the whole procedure again.
After telling him my problem, and again, making sure he had the right ID numbers, we made our way back to the transfer to the insurance lady. Guess what? Once more I was cut off.
By now I was almost blubbering. After some deep breathing, I punched in the 800 number, ignored the Spanish robot, didn’t even bother with the ID number, giving it instead to a live lady in Richmond VA, who took my ID number, listened to my story, apologized for not being able to contact the first lady in Tucson, or the guy in Pittsburgh, and, took me to the call transfer stage once again, swearing that she would push the right button and connect me.
She did it – she really did it. Now I was connected to another nice living, breathing woman who gave me the names of three insurance companies. I chose the one with a recognizable, and I felt, trustworthy name, the least expensive monthly premium, and the lowest charge to me after they covered my medicines.
The next part of this awful run around is up to the insurance company and the pharmacy. They will probably get entangled in great masses of red tape. I can hardly wait to get their promised “papers”. The question is…will I get one set or three?
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