Wild Glucagon Chase

Sometimes, when everything seems to be as stupid as it can possibly get, a few wonderful people step in to remind you that there is normalcy and kindness in a diabetes world run by insurance companies.

Last week, I called my CDE to request a new glucagon prescription. I’d been without one of those trusty red boxes for a few months, and had been reminded by my husband about 673 times to get a new one. My CDE told me she’d send one in to the Walgreens down the street from my house, and I went on my merry way, happy to have half of an annoying errand behind me.

I got a call from her secretary the next day. “It looks like your insurance company isn’t covering your glucagon,” she said. “So Cathy’s going to type up a letter of necessity and put it in the mail tomorrow.”

As distraught as I was at the possibility of fighting another battle with my insurance company, it was good to know that my CDE had my back. The woman never lets me down, and is always there to tell some doctor or insurance company how it is.

When I got to Walgreens that evening, the pharmacist echoed my CDE’s message. “It’s not covered,” he said, and handed me my other prescription. Which had this note on it:

What are these glucose tablets of which you speak?

I didn’t see the note until I got home, and when I did, I laughed. Hard. OTC glucose tablets available for low sugar? That’s like handing someone with a deadly peanut allergy a note that says “Epi pen not covered by insurance (or insuranse). OTC Benadryl available for allergies.”

I couldn’t NOT share this comedy gold with the rest of the world, so I tweeted the picture right away and posted it to Facebook. I expected some commiseration, but my DOC Fairy Godfather would take it a step further. The next morning, I got an email asking for my address. “I can get you some glucagon. It’s $30 on my insurance, I think. I’ll put it in the mail as soon as I can get my paws on it.”

I was touched. Not only was a fellow DOC-er and real-life friend coming to my diabetes supply rescue again, I would also get to participate in some illicit insurance-defying supply-swapping. I would get some glucagon after all — even if it was delivered in the dead of night by a carrier pigeon wearing night-vision goggles!

The next day I went back to Walgreens to pick up another prescription, and saw my favorite BFF pharmacy tech at the window. It was the perfect opportunity to bring up the “glucogen” issue.

“Okay, I know you didn’t do this, because you’re normal and cool,” I began.

“Oh God. What happened?” she asked.

I explained the glucagon and the crazy note, and I told her that if insurance wouldn’t cover it, I’d have to go ahead and buy it myself, because, well, I needed it.

“Of course you need it! What the hell is wrong with them?” Then: “Uh, do you know how much glucagon costs? It’s like 300 dollars.”

She told me she’d try to run it through a discount program. While she did that, I wandered around to survey eye shadow and shake weights. She had a surprise for me when I came back!

“It’s covered!” she called out of the little pharmacist cage. “They made a mistake the first time. I ran it again, and it’s covered! Thirty-five bucks!” We both did a little dance.

It was a happy ending, but I felt a little guilty. Here I’d inconvenienced my CDE, a friend, and all my poor Twitter followers who had to put up with my complaining a few days before. It wasn’t even my insurance company’s fault!

Of course, it was a frustrating experience, but it gave me a renewed appreciation for the helpfully wonderful and wonderfully helpful people in my life.

Here’s hoping I don’t need that glucagon, anyway. I’d rather take the glucose tabs.

11 comments on “Wild Glucagon Chase

  1. Penney says:

    I just had to comment and roll my eyes on the poor spelling in this note. You would like to think the people responsible for your life-saving medication can at least SPELL. Ugh. Glad you were able to get it covered.
    Diabetes…I guess if it were easy or fun, everyone would do it 🙂


  2. Colleen says:

    And… you taught us all to double check when that happens.

  3. Mike Hoskins says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Jacquie! Not only is it funny and frustrating and happy-dance and fist-shaking all at the same time, it’s helpful and a great reminder to double-check when they say it’s not covered!

  4. k2 says:

    Glad you double checked & it’s so great when something frustrating turns into a positive experience!
    And can I just say that DOC fairy Godfather’s rock, as do BFF pharmacy techs!!!

  5. lauren says:

    HAAH it’s funny because I believe it either way! I hate the pharmacy, they always mess everything up. I feel like I am battling with them all the time. Ugh. Glad you got it though!!

  6. Tim says:

    Hell’s bells! While we might have a health-system dangerously based on communism here in Britland at least we don’t have to fight with insurance companies ever – I don’t even have health insurance. The National Health Service might be creaky, but God bless ‘er – it provides us with all we need /wipes away tear

  7. I am glad that it turned out well for you. $300 for medication is terrible! The whole health insurance set up is skewed against patients.

  8. Sara says:

    That post it note would have pushed me straight over the edge.

    And the spelling errors? It’s no wonder the guy entered it into the system wrong!

  9. Scott S says:

    Here’s the deal: Glucagon is not only a generic name, but also a brand name for Eli Lilly & Co’s recombinant glucagon product. However, insurance may not cover Lilly-branded Glucagon, but may cover Novo Nordisk’s GlucaGen (which is, as I understand it, actually manufactured by Baxter for sale in the U.S.) may very well be covered. Unfortunately, you as the patient must know the intimate details of your insurance companies formulary, which is subject to change if they get a competitive offer from a rival company. Isn’t diabetes an easy and fun-to-live-with disease?!

  10. shannon says:

    A – hello fancy new blog header and other cosmetic alterations! i like it a lot! /dumbanddumber

    2 – omg that post-it note caused me to say outloud: WHAT. THE ACTUAL. FRACK. (except not frack).

    glad everything got resolved and it can now be told as a humorous anecdote. but seriously. WTAF.

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