Fellow pharmacy blogger "Fries with That" recently had a post entitled "OTC products on Medicaid" (http://fastfoodpharmacy.blogspot.com/2010/04/otc-products-on-medicaid.html),
voicing frustration with the time and effort spent having to process prescriptions for cheap OTC medications that are covered under states' Medical Assistance programs.
It's true; the time and labor spent on these things costs way more than the prescription itself is worth -- but they have to be inputted into the computer, filled, counted, poured, labeled and checked just like an Rx-only drug. One of the pharmacies I cover does stacks of these. We'll get entire families of several kids getting Tylenol, Motrin, hydrocortisone cream, petroleum jelly (yes, it's covered)... adults and kids getting generic Claritin in all its forms, Benadryl, assorted topical lotions, vitamin products... you name it. I get really frustrated being buried under piles of these, and having to get them corrected and re-processed for NDC number, or directions, or number of refills, or bottle size, etc..... seems like a complete waste of valuable time.
I say, Medicaid plans should set up an OTC charge. With a couple of keystrokes, we bill them one charge -- and I know, we'll have to fight about how much that will be --- then we pick the product(s) off the shelf and hand them to the customer. Done. Time saved, resources saved. I am more convinced than ever that cutting health care costs is going to involve the little things that reduce people's TIME, and cut out the middle man. We don't always need to cut the service, we just need to do it smarter.
Sitting in the dentist's waiting room I am perusing "Rolling Stone" magazine. I've long since lost track of what 'the kids today' listen to, but apparently one of the most popular college-played bands is "Ted Leo and the Pharmacists." Whaaa??? I listened to a couple of songs online --- they're not bad! I don't think they write songs about pharmacy though... no "My Vicodin was Stolen from my Boyfriend's Car" or "What? My Copay's Always Been Zero."