Sunday, March 15, 2009

My $100 Mistake

One of the things that really concerns me is how dependent I am on two tiny little bottles. Bottles that I can only get one at a time. Bottles made of glass. Bottles labeled "Novolog" and "Lantus."

I refilled my insulin prescriptions on 2/27 (Friday). The next Wednesday, I took my Novolog out of the fridge for my lunch dosage, dropped it on my kitchen floor, and swore when it smashed. What was I supposed to do NOW?

Called the pharmacy. They said they would fill a new prescription if my doc called it in, but getting it paid for by insurance was another matter. Called my endocrinologist. Closed for lunch. Called my PCP. Closed for the afternoon. Oh lovely. They always take Wednesday afternoons off, for reasons I don't even want to explore. Why Wednesday? Why the afternoon? Why do I keep thinking about it when I know it's making me crazy?

So -- ate some no-carb snacks (more cheese, anyone?) and waited patiently for the endo's office to reopen. In the meantime, called my insurance company and asked if they had a policy for lost, broken, or stolen prescriptions. Based on the title of this post, I'm guessing you know the answer. Yeah ---nope.

Got ahold of the endo around 2:30, got to the pharmacy by 4:00. They didn't have the scrip. I was like "THEY DIDN'T CALL IT IN???" "Oh, they did, but your insurance..." "Look, I know the insurance won't pay for it. It has to be out of pocket." "Well, that's going to be kind of expensive.." I wanted to reach across the counter, take him by his little white jacket, and start shaking him whilst shouting "DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT TYPE 1 DIABETES?" I mean, hello - insulin. Not optional. My mood was probably not helped by the fact that I hadn't had a real lunch, and we were fast approaching dinner (although amazingly enough, by the time I got around to eating "lunch" at 4:30, the sugars were still in the normal range. Let's hear it for almonds, baby!). I was very proud of myself in that I did not shake him, I just said "Yeah, I know it's expensive. Still need it, though." He said to give him a couple of minutes, and bing-bang-boom, I'm $114.00 poorer but in possession of my life saving medication.

So now I'm totally freaked out. What if I'm mugged and somebody steals my purse containing my insulin, and it happens to be after pharmacy hours? What if it breaks again? What if I'm traveling and it gets lost or something? I mean, everything I've read about diabetes and travel says to take extra medicine with you in the event of the unknown. I can't seem to GET any extra medication, so how do people do it?

Why won't my insurance fill it early? (Liability. Cost. Stupid reasons.) They wouldn't even fill my test strips 2 days early. Yeah, like people are abusing blood glucose testing supplies. What a market those suckers have on the street.

I keep thinking about the people in Hurricane Katrina that had to live without power for weeks or were forced into the superdome for days at a time. I mean, there had to be diabetics among them, right? What did they do? In the event of an emergency.......what? I want insulin in my 72-hour emergency kit, please! How do I get it?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Welcome to the frustrating world of "the patient seems to know more than the medical/ insurance profession." It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that medication, especially medication that is non habit forming, should be made available to patients more readily. I have heard that a pharmacist does not have to have a prescription to sell you diabetic supplies. Yes, he/she can charge you full price, but they must sell them to you even without that magic piece of paper.

    It sounds like you need to have a talk with your doctor. Most doctors understand the MANY problems with insurance companies and can write your prescription for a little more than you require for a month so that you can slowly build up a reserve supply of test strips and insulin.

    Another tip: wrap your opened insulin bottles with masking tape, so that if they are dropped they stand some chance of staying intact. Tile floors are a killer on them!

    You might want to check if your insurance company has a flex spending plan (pre-tax dollars that are taken out of a pay check each month so you can use them for medical costs througout the year). Our flex spending account has been a lifesaver for my many diabetic expenses. You can use it for situations like the one you described above. Some plans even have a type of credit card that can be loaded with the full amount of money you will be contributing for the year, and then you use it just like a credit card instead of having to be reimbursed later.

    (There were so many mistakes on my first comment post, I had to remove it. Sorry about that!)

  3. I used to work for a diabetes education clinic, and the nurses got a lot of free samples from sales reps, and they would give them out like candy to newly diagnosed folks. Ask for some. Especially if you see a nurse/dietitian on a regular basis for follow up education. We gave out novolog, lantus, and strips.

  4. This, of course, shows the general idiocy of the "only 30 days at a time" approach to prescriptions that took hold some years ago in insurance plans.

    Do you know how much your meds cost at Walmart sans insurance? My wife and I don't have medical insurance, and we have all our meds filled at Walmart. Generic meds are $4 for 30 days, $10 for 90 days. Even the non-generic meds are pretty reasonable.

    And, yes, you definitely want backup meds, given that you're diabetic. Work with your doctor on getting a backup supply. Our son-in-law is diabetic and so has to deal with issues like this as well. ..bruce..

  5. I saw you knock over an insulin store. Oh, wait...

  6. A lot of insurance companies will now cover 90 day supplies. You ought to check with yours to see if they will do that. Then have your doc prescribe for 90 days.

    I've always had a 72 hour kit and a year supply of food storage that we actually use, but 3 weeks ago my 4 month old daughter was diagnosed with a terrible genetic disorder and is now on chemo in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. I completely know your feelings of panic. What if some natural disaster occured? If we couldn't get her meds, she'd die. And there's nothing I can do about it. I can't store them up because they expire so quickly. I guess this is how the Lord teaches me to trust.

  7. Hi just found your blog but I'm a LDS diabetic (26yrs) mom. Ask your endo about insulin pens. (I'm not sure how you managed to break a vial, I've droped sereral before I switched to pen and never had a problem, maybe a defective vial.) Pens have plastic coverings and would withstand a fall easier and they come in a box with multiple pens so breaking one would still leave you with back ups. My lantus pen stays in the bathroom because I take those doses in the morning and at bed time but I have a Humalog and Symlin Pen in my bathroom and in my purse, to does when I'm out of the house. Older insulin's NPH and Regular and testing supplies can be purchased without a script but the newer insulins, that you are taking cannot be. People to abuse insulin to try and lose weight. The freebies at most endo offices are being rationed now because of the economy. Good Luck and don't worry about the good days, they are all still good days!

  8. People abuse insulin to try and lose weight? What? I thought insulin made you gain weight. I have heard of people going off insulin to get their sugars high and drop weight, but the other way around? Is there an insulin that makes you lose weight? This is news to me.