Tuesday, November 1, 2011

War on Drugs

There's a wind blowin and I live in a house of cards. The powers that be are messing with my imperfect but functional and very tenuous setup for getting Maggie what she needs. Somebody needs to FIX THIS and SOON!

About a month ago we learned that our health insurance carrier Anthem Blue Cross was Walgreens have not agreed to new contract terms and when the current contract expires on January 1, 2012 we can no longer get our prescriptions at Walgreens. 

WHAT?!?!?!? This cannot be.  I have been using the Walgreens at California and Spruce streets since Maggie was born over  17 years ago.( I used them before that too, but just for the occasional prescription we needed when we were a four healthy person household.) I know all the pharmacists and assistants and over the years have gone through more techs than you can count. I know that I can get a refill when I need it, even if it's impossible to get a hold of the doctor. They know all 16 of Maggie's medications and now have most on an auto-refill basis. Just this morning the night nurse told me we were out of Atravent and I said, that means there is a box sitting at Walgreens waiting for me to pick it up. And indeed there was.  It works.

Walgreens is pretty much the only game in this town. San Francisco is 49 square miles and by my count there are 63 Walgreens locations. (count for yourself here). When I talked to Anthem Blue Cross about this today I asked where we are supposed to go. He suggested Target - nope there isn't a single one in SF. CVS? I know there's one downtown, but it's not realistic to drive 5 miles and pay an arm and a leg to park every time I need to get some meds because it can be three or four days a week.  Anthem does have a mail order service for prescriptions, but that requires using one service for her "specialty medications", a separate service for her regular medication and a local pharmacy for her antibiotics and urgent care meds. I cannot have three separate pharmacies.It will be impossibleto keep everything straight.  I already have three medical supply companies to deal with, but if somethign screws up there I can purchase most of the stuff over the counter. I can't do that with regulated medications. Wehn he asked if I was interested I said, "No. That makes my life more complicated and it's complicated enough already."

I don't know who is at fault here, but one of these two giant corporations needs to blink so I can  keep things straight and get Maggie what she needs without increasing the burden.  I want to continue to get her drugs from my neighborhood pharmacy, even if it is part of a giant corporation. I know all the cogs in that part of the wheel. I don't know a single cog in the Anthem wheel, which may be by design. Every single time I have to deal with them I have to re-invent the wheel. For that reason alone, I believe Anthem needs to blink. Walgreens actually provides some service to the policyholders along with the medication. That's a concept Anthem seems to have lost along the way. 

This is a hassle for every anthem Policy holder that uses Walgreens and I'll bet in San Francisco that's 99% of the policy holders. FINALLY Maggie's with the majority on a health issue.  

It's time to occupy someplace because we ARE the 99%.  


  1. Hi sally,
    I've been happy using the pharmacy at Albertsons/Luckys at Lakeshore plaza.

  2. I'm so bitter about Anthem in general that I imagine they know perfectly well that Walgreen's is the most convenient drugstore in the San Francisco area. They're probably trying to weed out "customers" -- not persistent fighters like you but your extremely weary counterparts.

    I hate Anthem with all my enormous heart. I really do.


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