Flood, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, terrorist attack… The list of possible disasters isn’t very long. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important to prepare.
One small line in most emergency preparation lists suggests including an extra month of prescription meds in your emergency kit. I wondered idly how one might go about doing that, but when nobody in my family was regularly taking prescriptions it wasn’t an issue. Now it is pertinent.
The problem isn’t with believing it’s a good idea to be prepared. The problem is the difficulty of obtaining the extra month’s worth of meds.
1. Insurance will not pay for early fills. If you want to get an extra month, the cost will be entirely out-of-pocket. That might not be a problem for one or two less expensive medications, but it’s a big deal if the cash price of your monthly trip to the pharmacy is nearly $3,000.
2. Even if you pay cash so that you can have an extra month on hand, there’s still a problem. Prescriptions allow a specific number of refills. If you pay cash to get that extra month early, you run out of available refills at the pharmacy a month early.
I’ve jerry-rigged a solution. I do not wait 30 days to refill my meds. For a while now, I’ve refill my prescriptions every 27 days. The first month, that got me three extra pills. The second month, I added three more for a total of six extra pills. The third month, I was up to nine extras, and so on. For some weird reason, every now and then the insurance company says it’s too soon to refill and I’ve had to wait the full thirty, but this usually works. Doing it this way, within a year, you’ll have a managed to stockpile an extra month’s worth of most prescriptions.
This doesn’t work with methotrexate, Enbrel, or anything else that’s filled for four weeks instead of one month. Having skipped my Enbrel when I was sick, I know that when dealing with the stress of a disaster, I don’t want to be without that particular prescription. However, since I was already well into the process of trying to accumulate an extra month’s worth for my emergency kit when I got sick, I filled the prescription at the regular time anyhow (despite not being out).
It’s a good thing I did!
Add insurance change to the list of potential emergencies
They had the audacity to send out a letter last month with instructions that we should refill prescriptions before the end of the month (on our old insurance) because it would take a while to get everyone into the new insurer’s computer system, and it probably wouldn’t be possible for the pharmacy to verify coverage for a few days. I could picture getting laughed out of the pharmacy if I tried that, so didn’t bother.
Next the insurer said they should have everyone processed by the 10th, but we could just pay cash and then submit a request for reimbursement. I didn’t think that would be needed, since I last filled on the 10th and would just be stretching things out to the full thirty days. Unfortunately, the 10th came and went without new insurance cards. My dear husband, concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get my prescriptions, was duly impressed when I said that I supposed this counted as an emergency, and explained my strategy to him as I dug into my emergency supply.
It was nice to be prepared. It wasn’t nice to need it, but it worked out. I had to pay cash to get my mtx last week, because there’s no extra stash on that one. The rest of my prescriptions, though, I’ve been able to take normally, without the stress of wondering when those insurance cards are going to show up. The tiny effort needed to be prepared was well worth it.
Do you include a month’s worth of prescriptions in your emergency kit?
For more information on disaster preparedness:
Preparing for Emergencies – fantastic spoof