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Fuck you CVS Caremark!

We get our health insurance through hellbob's work. The prescription plan is separate from the medical plan. Kind of annoying at times, but not really a big deal.

The company that covered our prescriptions was Caremark Rx. They were decent. Sometimes we'd have to jump through a few hoops to get a specific drug approved, but nothing more than most insurances do.

Then, in 2007 Caremark RX merged with CVS, the pharmacy chain. Nothing changed at first other than the name on our cards.

Until Saturday. We got a letter from CVS Caremark telling us about "some important changes to your prescription benefit plan that will start January 1, 2010. These changes are designed to help you and your employer keep drug costs down and to offer you convenience and choice."

Looking at their new plan, I don't see convenience and choice. I see the Caremark Pharmacy Services branch of the company which oversees our pharmacy benefit management plan forcing us to purchase our medications from the CVS/pharmacy branch of the company.

Previously we had the option to get our prescription filled at any pharmacy, or we could save money by getting 90-day supplies through the mail order service.

We are supposed to jump up and down and say "YAY!" because they have now given us the additional option of getting a 90-day supply at the reduced price but instead of getting it mailed to us we can also choose to pick it up at a local CVS/pharmacy.

I wouldn't be bitching if that was the only thing they changed. Heck, we might even have opted to switch some of our prescriptions to the 90-day plan to save on them. (We've never done their mail order service because everyone we know who has done that has had at least one prescription screwed up.)

Oh no, the part that has me absolutely LIVID is that our "Any network pharmacy" coverage is now limited to 2 fills only on long-term medications. That would be my anti-depressants. That would be hellbob's diabetes medicine. That would be hellbob's gout medicine. That would be my ADD medicine. Hell, I don't even know if I can legally pick up my ADD meds at the CVS/pharmacy or if I would be required to get them mail order since they are a Schedule 2 drug.

I have two main reasons I don't want to switch my prescriptions from where they are:

1) We have been getting all our prescriptions filled at the same Walgreens for 10 years now. They are conveniently located for us. The service is excellent. They have NEVER made an error on our prescriptions. Quite frankly, we have never in all these years even been a little disappointed in the service we've gotten from them.

1a) Did I mention conveniently located? It is 1.5 miles from our house. 4 minute drive, tops. And both hellbob & I drive right past it on our regular routes to work. OK, nearest CVS/pharmacy? I had to Google it because quite frankly, I couldn't remember where any were near us. Oh hey, there's one. It's 4 miles away, in a neighborhood we never go to, and it will take 11+ minutes for us to drive there. Oh, but there's another one. Let's check that... The most direct route from our house is 4.4 miles & will also take 11 minutes. Or, if we're really in a hurray we can go over to the freeway to get there. Then we would be driving 6.1 miles, but it would only take us 10 minutes to get there. This one is in a neighborhood we are in once in a while, but not regularly. Yes CVS/Caremark, you are certainly more convenient. *eyeroll*

2) The second reason may or may not be a factor. I don't know yet. One of my medications, the one for ADD, is methylphenidate, more commonly known as Ritalin. It is a bitch to get the prescriptions filled because it is a Schedule 2 drug. This means that every single month I need to get a paper prescription from the doctor. I need it in my grubby little hands because it's not one that the doc can fax in. Then, when I get my precious paper to the pharmacy they fill it for one month. The next month, same thing. Besides needing the paper prescription, my doc is also not allowed to write if for any refills.
Given that hassle, it would seem that the mail order 90-day supply would be an awesome thing.
Problem is, Ritalin is available in generic and not all generics are created equal. Even though the generic is supposed to work exactly the same, it is a common complaint that the generic Ritalin just doesn't work as well as the name brand. I had found that to be true, as had a friend who is also on it but for narcolepsy. And we also both noticed that the brand of generic that Walgreens carries does not have the same problem. Walgreens carries the generic that is manufactured by Watson and is just as effective as the name brand.
I've never done the mail order from CVS/pharmacy because I don't know which generic they carry and I didn't want to be stuck with 3 months of a useless drug that's so restricted that I wouldn't be able to replace it until the 3 months were up. Now, I'm going to have to go to one of those not so convenient CVS/pharmacys and see if they will tell me which brand of generic they carry. And because it's Schedule 2, I don't know if they even will.

I am just so fucking pissed that they are forcing us to use their pharmacy, and that they are trying to sell this shit as convenience and choice.

Walgreens has a prescription savings club that we have never looked into because we had the prescription coverage. I think it's time to look into it because unless CVS Caremark is a drastic savings (at least 25 or 30 %) we will be going with Walgreens plan and telling CVS Caremark to go fuck themselves.

I really don't like the idea of being told I have to stop giving my business to a store that has given us nothing but excellent service & that I have to go to a business I've never dealt with.


A google search on CVS Caremark turned up THIS ARTICLE from the Wall Street Journal

The FTC already is probing CVS Caremark's business practices after lawmakers and the National Community Pharmacists Association raised concerns, including allegations the company improperly used patient data from its pharmacy-benefit operation to steer customers into its CVS drug stores.



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 24th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)
Maybe you could bitch to your employer? I have gotten some policies related to health care changed at a couple of places I've worked (or at least gotten dispensation for myself, if I couldn't change the world) by bitching vociferously. Because that's the sort of horseshit I hate.
Nov. 24th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately it is through hellbob's employer and as a multi-national company with tens of thousands of employees I don't see them changing. :(
Nov. 24th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
I did the same thing! Aetna makes us use their mail order RX for ongoing perscriptions. Things that we need to take all the time...like my Metformin for my insulin resistance. SO I checked out the Walgreens Club. There's a fee to join which is like $20 and my perscription is super cheap. I got a 90 day supply for like $12 or something like that...if I had gone through Aetna's RX it would have been $25 for a 90 day. AND...I can keep it where it's easy to get and they know me...just like you said! I'd say go for the Walgreen's plan if they have the drug you need. After all...it's your CHOICE! :)
Nov. 24th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the Walgreen's site said that it includes diabetes meds and supplies. I checked their list and my antidepressant is on there. I couldn't check to see if my Ritalin is on there because it's a controlled substance & state law prohibits the advertising of controlled substances. I'll have to stop at the Walgreen's this afternoon to check it out.
The main drug we'll probably have to use CVS Caremark to get is Rick's Biatta, because it's not generic and it's pretty expensive.
Nov. 24th, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, good thing we don't need Health Care Reform in this country! Sadly, I seriously doubt there is anything that can be done about it. Health Care Insurers are pretty much untouchable right now.
Nov. 24th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Healthcare reform? But then people might be able to get taken care of! We can't have that!
Nov. 24th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
I have a friend who works for CVS caremark. He might be able to answer your question about Ritalin.

I have used the Caremark mail order plan in the past and it works pretty well for drugs that you can get refills for. You mail them a 90-day prescription with refills for a year. The only problem I had was remembering to call in the refill order on time but CVS has started doing reminders when refills are due so that might not be a problem any more.
Nov. 24th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
I know when I've called mail order places the people who answer the phones have no clue on the Ritalin and no clue who to ask.
I think my first step really needs to be to check with Walgreens to find out the costs of our maintenance stuff through their plan. A lot of theirs are $12 for 3 months. CVS Caremark is $25/3 mo for the cheapest stuff. Of course, if the Walgreens plan saves us money now, then we are pretty much idiots for not having done it before... I always just assumed "We have insurance, that plan's not going to be cheaper!"
Nov. 24th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC)
That's true, but my friend is pretty smart. :) Anyway, let me know if you'd like me to pass on a question.

Checking with Walgreens first is a good idea. I've heard they have a pretty good plan.

Good luck. *HUG*
Nov. 24th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)
And now I know why my union switched prescription coverage plans.

We used to have Caremark, they were fine, but the AFL-CIO has a beef with CVS for something that I don't know much about. Now we have Prime Therapeutics, which the same in every way that I can see, except the mail order is a little easier.
Nov. 24th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
Frankly, when Caremark merged with CVS I really expected to see this happen sooner. Still pisses me off though.
Nov. 24th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
And another thing - The abuse of the words "convenience" and "choice" is getting ridiculous. I hate marketspeak, and the way it contorts the English language.

Used appropriately in a sentence now - "The prisoner was moved to solitary confinement in order to provide him convenience and choice."
Nov. 24th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
But we do still have choice. We can choose to pay more & go to the pharmacy that we know doesn't suck!

*If* CVS has the right kind of generic Ritalin and *if* I can get 3 months even though it's a controlled substance and *if* Ritalin isn't part of the Walgreens prescription plan, then this new plan will be convenient for me. That's a lot of ifs that I don't have confidence in...
Nov. 24th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
I've been using the mail order at CVS/Caremark all along, and didn't have any troubles until last month. My birth control ran out, and they decided they couldn't find the new prescription my doc had faxed them in July. They said they'll contact my doc and get it taken care of. Called a couple days later, they said it was on its way. The next week, after I'd run out, it still wasn't here. Called back, and no, it was not on its way, and they hadn't even heard from my doc. (Wonder why? Maybe because you're using the WRONG fax number???) Finally found a decent rep there, who found my rx (why couldn't the last 3 people find it??), approved a one month local pickup, and set up my rx to renew.

Now, why do I go online and find 2 open prescriptions for my zoloft, but none for the Yaz? F^@#ed up, I tell ya.

Can you even do mail order for a controlled substance? If not, will they cover more than 2 months? They need to define that. Argh! So frustrated on your behalf!
Nov. 24th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
I used to do Ritalin mail order back before I knew that some generics were crap. The only difference between them & other scrips was that delivery required a signature of someone over 18. Not really an option now that Rick's not working nights and therefore not home during the day. Then again, I also used to be able to get post-dated scripts, and I could give them to Walgreens to put in their safe. It was a lot like the not-allowed refills in that I could call the store & have them fill one.
Nov. 24th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
I just edited to add a link to a Wall Street Journal article from yesterday.

The FTC already is probing CVS Caremark's business practices after lawmakers and the National Community Pharmacists Association raised concerns, including allegations the company improperly used patient data from its pharmacy-benefit operation to steer customers into its CVS drug stores.
Nov. 24th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
I was going to say that you should report them to the Attorney General because that seems kinda shifty. And, really, people are tired of shifty.
Nov. 24th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
Boo for making you switch!!!! Good luck- I hope the Walgreen's plan works out for you.
Nov. 29th, 2009 09:38 am (UTC)
that's just effed.

you should definitely raise your concerns with hr, and keep well documented your back and forth. if enough people complain, the gr staff that negotiate the plans can use that as leverage for the next plan period.
Jul. 29th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
CVS Pharmacy
I just recently went on Medicare and an Aetna Supp. It recommends CVS. I went to the nearest one to me. It is a less than desirable area. When I got out of my car and looked down I almost upchucked. The parking lot was beyond nasty. I went in and complained to the checker who pointed out a manager. I told him my concern. He was rude and arrogant. He informed that it would be a waste of time to clean it up. I am not going back there. The next closest one is in another city. I am not going to bother. Walgreens is closer and clean inside and out.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )



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