It being Friday afternoon, I wasn't sure they'd manage to get the prescription called in (I arranged to pick up the copies of the prescriptions on Monday morning). Nonetheless, I stopped this morning on the way home from Jazzercise, and there was a bottle of Prevacid waiting for me. BUT: the insurance wouldn't cover it. I yelped, and explained that this was the drug the insurer's Web site recommended instead of Nexium, and so they went to investigate--after dealing with another customer's insurance problems. When they got to me, their computer eventually said that this drug requires "prior authorization" (back to that phrase that seems...misplaced...in this context). When I still looked baffled, they called the insurer and were informed that as of Jan. 1, all drugs in this class require prior authorization.
So, rather than pay the full retail price, I elected to wait until Monday when the pharmacy can consult with my doctor and try to get over the prior authorization hurdle. And I've spent the day reflecting on the incredible inefficiencies of this system--the time it takes for me, for the pharmacy, for the doctor's staff, and for the doctor to go through these rounds of "what drug can be prescribed, and what will it cost the patient". I'm no fan of the latest and greatest new drug that's just a tweak of an old one, and don't mind taking older drugs or generics if they will do as well for my problem. But can't we come up with a better system than this for determining what that drug is?