Sometimes fact really is stranger than fiction. I mean, stuff that you couldn’t dream up if you tried. Stuff that results in a lengthy blog post that absolutely demands a number of ALL CAPS and italics instances, as well as a record number of f*cking curse words to convey my frustration. Demands.
I have whined before about the requirement that I use a specialty pharmacy; there is always some kind of problem. The other day, I had two pieces of mail. One was a refund check from Caremark, for $130 in co-pay overpayments. The other was a thick stack of collection notices from…bet you’re catching on…Caremark.
First of all, WTF? Second of all, I pay all my bills on time. But I am extra vigilant about things like my health insurance premiums and drug co-pays. For obvious reasons. So the overpayment didn’t surprise me; I make a payment every time I order meds, just in case. Then I get a bill and typically pay that too. Because the last thing I need is even more drama from Caremark. But despite all that, they have still managed to f*ck this up. Royally.
I call the debt collector first, assuming even they will be easier to deal with than Caremark. They are stumped and tell me to call Caremark. I tell the woman I would rather stick a hot poker in my eye than call them, and she seems to be empathetic, but still unable to help me. She does however give me the number she uses to call billing, in an attempt to get me straight through. It was an act of kindness.
I call her number for Caremark billing, where the auto-attendant strongly, repeatedly, encourages me to leave a message and hang the f*ck up. No. Not gonna do it. Standing tough (well, sitting tough), I wait and wait and wait. After nine minutes I finally get an alleged human. I try to explain the situation but she cuts me off and tells me she can’t do anything until she gets my info, blah blah blah. After two minutes that seems like a lifetime, she comes back and tells me they don’t have me in their system. I go on a rant and she decides to check again, under the name I actually gave her rather than the wrong name she wrote down. Voila! There I am.
I explain everything and get a heavy sigh. SHE is annoyed with ME. Then she places me on hold for another five minutes. Literally. When she finally comes back she claims she has a solution! Something so brilliant that it required consulting with her supervisor, which explains the long wait. Her triumphant moment is…I should deposit the check and then pay the credit collectors. I said “you’ve got to be kidding right? You’re not actually suggesting I do this?” Crickets. I tell her this sounds like the solution that works best for her, by putting the problem back on me, and my account will still be a mess. I ask to speak with her supervisor. Hold AGAIN, only to be told she is happy to put me in his voice mail.
I leave an admittedly lunatic rant voice mail for the supervisor. I finally hang up and notice I missed a call while I was sitting on hold. It was CAREMARK. Calling me to refill my prescriptions.
Fine. I call the refill number back and jump through all the usual hoops to get the three meds refilled. On the very, very off chance that she can help, I explain my collections/overpayment problem to the pharmacy rep. She suggests I call billing. I tell her I did. She suggests I ask to speak with a supervisor. I tell her I did. Crickets.
Running out of options, I call the number on the letter that came with the check.. It is a general, ten tier phone tree about ALL medications Caremark
f*cks up services. Has nothing to do with billing or overpayments. I sit through the phone tree and eventually get through to a human. I go through the whole thing again and she of course puts me on hold. She finally comes back and says “my reimbursement team will not accept your call. This is a billing issue.” Are you f*ing kidding me? Am I being punked? I lost it. I mean I full on went batshit crazy. I reminded her that I am the actual customer and that I want to speak to someone empowered to solve this problem. She tells me she will transfer me to her “escalation team.” More hold. Minutes on end. She comes back to tell me the escalation team will not accept my call because this isn’t their department. I’m not kidding you. That’s what she said. Then she offered to transfer me to billing. I offered to slash my wrists instead, as that seemed to be the only way to solve this problem. Well, for me anyway.
Unbelievably, the supervisor from billing actually calls me back. Makes all pretense that he is going to be helpful right before he spectacularly proves he is not going to help me. And although he has called me, and I have left him a detailed message about the problem, he makes me go through the whole thing again just so he can of course PUT ME ON HOLD for a good amount of time before coming back and saying he has no idea who sent the check or why, but if I want to avoid credit reporting on my “overdue” co-pays, he is happy to take my credit card number and call the balance back from the collection agency.
I take a breath and decide to try another angle; I address the issue of insurance fraud. As in, if you are double billing me and can’t figure it out, then you are probably double billing my insurance company as well. He tells me he can print a statement of all the payments ever made by me and by my insurance company. I point out that is not helpful since clearly there is another department somewhere that has different records that DON’T MATCH. He says that would be my responsibility to research.
Controlling myself enough to use my inside voice, albeit dripping with sarcasm, I suggest that perhaps he take responsibility for researching? Just a thought. Clearly a novel concept for him. He pauses then in a last ditch attempt to get me off his back he tells me it could take a week or more for him to figure out. I tell him that’s just fine. He is clearly pissed now. Yeah buddy, well me too.
Now I am on an absolute mission. Ride or die. I try to find a number for corporate headquarters. I can’t get a human, even when I look up investor relations and the annual report. Just another customer service email. So I send them this whole story. And this is the response I got:
Dear Ms. Hirsch:
Thank you for contacting CVS Caremark. We strive to provide quality customer care to every one of our plan participants.
We show that your medication is handled by CVS Caremark’s Specialty Pharmacies. For specialty billing information, please contact our specialty pharmacy directly at 1-800-237-2767 for immediate assistance. Specialty pharmacy representatives are available from 6:30 AM until 8:00 PM CST, Monday through Friday. Specialty Pharmacy has their own website which you may access at www.cvsspecialty.com/.
Should you need additional assistance, please respond to this e-mail or you may contact Customer Service at 1-800-241-3371. We appreciate the opportunity to serve all of your prescription benefit needs and to help you better manage your health.
Surely I’m being punked, right? Tell me this isn’t real.
As what appears to be my final recourse I have filed a suspected fraud complaint with my insurance company, which they will likely do absolutely nothing about. But I want a record of this clusterf*ck so I don’t get in trouble down the road for depositing the f*cking check, which I guess is what I’m going to have to do.
I am mad as hell and would very much like to NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE. But I’m screwed, because I have absolutely no choice but to use this pharmacy and watch them rake in thousands of dollars a month for being incompetent a**holes.
I’m trying to recall why I ever stopped drinking, and consider consuming large quantities of alcohol when I remember I’m already on enough drugs.
So WTF Caremark? WTF?