August 5th, 2009

Health Care Reform Needed

So I am not by nature a particularly political person. I nod and smile politely when my friends and loved ones discourse learnedly (or not so learnedly) about candidates and policies and particular initiatives. I vote, after reading the sample ballot. Certain obvious issues get my support, like helping the poor, ensuring civil rights, and educating our population (I would say “our children,” but at present the prison system in California is the largest school district).

Given this, it is not surprising that I have not been following the health care reform proposals. It seems obvious to me that reform is needed and equally obvious that substantive reform is unlikely to happen for those who need it most. They can talk all they want and I’ll just get on with my life, thanks.

Except that sometimes I have to interact with health care and its technology. Much like the time I ranted about how medications are for sick people and should be labeled and packaged accordingly, I now need to say that Kaiser’s web site and pharmacy are not precisely user-friendly.

What actually happened yesterday was that I went to the helpful website to order a prescription refill. The dosage instructions on the bottle said to take one pill a day for the first week and then two a day thereafter. There were originally 100 pills in the bottle. The website informed me that it was too early to refill my prescription. (I know so many people who take anti-depression medication recreationally that I’m sure abuse is a terrible problem. And even if a desperate person were to take the entire 100 pills on the very same day, it would not be a lethal dose, so frankly I don’t know what they’re getting all controlling and panicky about.) I did the math and found that the computer only paid attention to the first part of the dosage. This seems like a major lapse in technology to me.

The next step was to wait impatiently for humans to be available at the pharmacy phone number. Then the dreaded phone tree and the semi-pleasant hold music interrupted by announcements that I still was not being helped. I kind of figured that out myself.

The actual human I reached was sympathetic and helpful to the best of her ability given the system. However, she had to email a request to the doctor and it might or might not trigger the refill I need. I will have to check back. There is a time issue involved because I would really rather not have to go pick up the prescription at the pharmacy (if you need me to explain why, you have never experienced the parking/line/administrative hassles of Kaiser, you lucky person), but if this is not resolved in time, I won’t be able to wait for it to come in the mail before I run out.

Thank God I’m not gravely ill or anything. I’m pretty sure no one has died of annoyance yet.