Su Lum: Slumming | AspenTimes.com
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Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

The Aspen Times changed insurance companies in January, and I began to get a flood of mail from Express Scripts which appeared to be telling me that I Must sign up for their prescription delivery services for my many meds. In the past, I often got mail from ES saying they would Like for me to sign up for their services, but these notices were more imperative.

“No problem,” they said at work, “they just want you to Think that you have to.”

I like to shop locally whenever possible, so I ignored the missives until the day Carl’s Pharmacy said my insurance company had refused to cover the cost of Tricor. They could fill it for me, but it would cost $135.

This news sent me scurrying to call HealthComp to find out what cooked, and what was cooking was that it was now mandatory for me to use Express Script’s delivery service. Though they would override the Tricor for another month, I had to sign up fast. I went to ES’s website to set things up, thought that I had accomplished my mission, but heard no more.

With close to a dozen prescriptions close to refill time, I dialed ES’s 800 number, where I was asked to tap in my Social Security number, date of birth, zip code and ID number, each of which was read back to me by a robot voice, followed by “if this is correct, press one; if it is incorrect press two.” I screwed up and had to press two a couple of times.

The ID number was problematic, consisting as it did of five numbers, the letter L, then five more numbers. These appeared in teeny type on my insurance card, which I was trying to read with my magnifying glass while holding the phone and tapping in the information, an operation requiring another arm.

“If there is a letter in your ID number, press star.” Well, there was a letter, so I pressed “star” (we called them asterisks), but what they meant was, when I got to the point in the ID number where the letter occurred, THEN I should press star. Duh. Rejected. Call again. Click.

I went through the whole routine again, pressed star at the right time (“If your letter is J, press 1; if your letter is K, press 2; if your letter is L ((My letter! My letter!)), press 3.”). Then the big question, “If this is your first time requesting home delivery, press 1. If this is not your first time, press 2.”

Since it was not my first time ” I had tried to sign up online ” I pressed 2. Mistake. They had no record of me. Click. Shaking, I called it a day.

Next day, I gathered provisions, went to the bathroom, wrote my ID number in big letters on a separate piece of paper and began again. This time I pressed 1 when asked if this was my first attempt and ended up with the human voice of a woman named Anneka, who, after some problems understanding what the problem was, told me that my doctor needed to fax prescriptions for every prescription, with my ID#, date of birth and name on each, and that I should expect delivery in three or four weeks. “I’ll be out of everything by then,” I wailed, and she said she’d transfer me. Click.

“Express Scripts, please enter your ID number.” I went through the drill and got Johnny. Johnny said he didn’t have the power to override anything. “Did you LOSE your pills, Ms. Lum?” he asked in confusion. “I show you’re not due for refills until March 28.” “But Anneka said it would take three to four WEEKS,” I said. Johnny said they would probably arrive in time, but I must get after my doctor to send in the prescriptions, adding “You have to take some responsibility.”

Poor Dr. Borchers sent in the scripts in a rush and Johnny was right, the pills arrived on time, and now Express Scripts calls all the time to keep me in the loop. Robot voice: “Is this the (pause) LUM family? If that is correct, say ‘Yes.'” Then the day my order was received is stated, another call, the day it was shipped, another call the day it is expected to arrive. At the end, the voice says, “All right, we’re all done.” Click.


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