As an Independent community pharmacist you are well aware of the feeling that you are continuously trying to stave off the Tsunami that keeps pounding on your door….the insurance companies and their continual barrage to deceive their members and you, in their attempts to increase their already inflated profits and line the pockets of their CEO’s, shareholders and politician puppets.
This reality may seem harsh and pessimistic BUT there’s hope and evidence that these insurance company behemoths can be called to task and be made to STOP their greed and predatory practices. Grassroots campaigns and the use of technology can force the insurance companies to back down and stop forcing mandatory mail order on their members.
In November 2012 Anthem Blue Cross of California mailed letters to HIV infected members stating that as of March 1st 2013 using a retail pharmacy would be considered “going out of network” for antiretroviral medications. Patients must use Curascript, for mail order or pay the full price of the drug if they use their local retail pharmacy. This mandatory mail order mandate by Anthem Blue Cross ignited a firestorm.
With the most advanced and simple technologies at our fingertips, the use of social media including blogs, articles and videos allows us to rally the masses in grass roots efforts to stop unjust actions, such as the mandatory mail order mandates by insurance companies. As pharmacists we need to be familiar with technology and as we become advocates for our patients and ourselves we must maximize technology to disseminate the message to the masses.
How technology helped extinguish the Anthem Blue Cross Firestorm:
1. If you were to Google “Anthem Blue Cross HIV Mandatory Mail Order” it would yield about 12,400 results. This is amazing to think that the blogs, articles, videos and commentaries have such a global reach.
2. Petition on Change.org “Anthem Blue Cross: Stop Anthem Blue Cross Compromising Care of HIV Patients”
I disseminated the petition all over the Internet, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, articles on my blog, videos and more, and the results were amazing. We had 621 signatures, but what amazed me most were the comments of those that signed the petition. Here are a few comments.
“I provide care to many HIV clients and my ability to provide one on one specialty care and adherence counseling is being threatened by this formulary change. Clients health and long term medication compliance will be compromised by this initiative.”
“HIV Care for positive patients is a life or death situation. You cannot compromise care without taking responsibility for the death of those you do not serve honorably.”
“You are raising my rates this year 22% with a 3 year cumulative over 67% and now you are requiring me to purchase my life supporting medication through an unknown and untrusted source is the last straw.”
To read ALL the comments download the PDF http://bit.ly/12FylXa
- Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube were all used to disseminate the message
Articles were posted on blogs such as Consumerwatchdog.com, HuffingtonPost.com, TheBody.com, MichRxConsulting.com and hundreds more, getting the news out to readers
- Press Releases
The results of the efforts against Anthem Blue Cross were successful and the lawsuit was finally settled in May. Anthem Blue Cross HIV positive members are able to permanently “Opt Out” of the mail order mandate without penalty and continue to use their community HIV Specialty pharmacy or any pharmacy of their choice.
The precedent of the Anthem Blue Cross lawsuit has now been focused on United Healthcare who is being sued for the same reason, mandating that HIV patients utilize their mail order pharmacy OptumRx.
Imagine this Anthem Blue Cross scenario happening in 1992. There would have been an article in the newspaper (maybe), hardly anyone would have noticed and the mandate would have gone into effect. With technology and the Internet we can rally the masses to put pressure on those causing injustices and make them change their policies. Use the technology available as a megaphone for your voice, stand up and deliver and let’s all save Independent community pharmacies together.