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Matters Grow More Serious

So I pay a payment late. A little fee. A little lost goodwill with my insurer. Remind them to send me the paper copies I had forgotten I no longer was receiving. Lesson learned. No big deal.

But then there's the pharmacy. Automatic insurance payment of prescription drugs has literally made access to medicine possible for a range of people not able to front the money previously required until the insurer got around to reimbursement. In the process, the cost of maintaining drug coverage has decreased, even if the cost of drugs has not.

Win/win situation. Better for consumers. Better for insurers. That is, until a "Host Controller Error" is received by the pharmacist. The medicine in question was not terribly expensive, nor would my life have been in jeopardy had I not been able to receive it, but what if neither of those facts were true? And why was the pharmacist trying to resolve a network issue with a member of the help desk at a third-party prescription routing service?

This is not to impugn the intelligence of the pharmacist or the help desk. It is to say that networking is not his specialty. The result was just a half hour of inconvenience, but it made me think.

In spite of the 800 number printed on my insurance card, the computer was the only route for describing coverage. The pharmacist needed only the amount of my co-pay and the problem was solved. Why could this not be done by phone? They were all too happy to confirm that my policy was in force. Why was there no alternative mechanism for processing a claim in case the network was down?

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