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    What happened to community pharmacy?

    Truman LastingerTruman LastingerIn the drugstore, each customer who walks up to the counter presents a different and unique situation to which the pharmacist must react. Consequently, there is no way a pharmacist can plan the next hour or even 30 minutes of the day. Quite often, I had salespeople or business associates or customers call and ask whether they could come see me at a certain time. I had to tell them just to come on in, and when they did, we would snatch moments to talk or visit between customers. In order to sit down and spend some time conversing with them, I had to do it after hours. The way things are now, the pharmacist can hardly do that.

    Ours is one of the small number of reactive jobs in the United States. There is no planning, just reacting.

    See also: Is community pharmacy a dying profession?

    Paid by the piece

    We had to spend many years earning a degree in order to get a license to do this kind of work. Yet since the adoption of the professional fee, the pharmacist is not compensated for the quality of his work or for its good results.

    He is paid on the basis of how many prescriptions he can turn out and how quickly he can do it — and the prices on those prescriptions are determined by someone besides the pharmacy involved.

    See also: Been there, done that, got the message

    "Prescription cards"

    The insurance companies sell their plans to people or organizations or companies that then issue a card telling customers they are insured.

    A large number of companies issue free "prescription cards" that are not insurance. These cards do not reimburse the pharmacy; they only suggest a total price that the pharmacy can charge for the drug involved. (In this instance, someone is controlling pharmacy business who is not remotely involved in pharmacy but has found a way that helps them sell something to the public.)

    Each of these so-call prescription cards has a bank identification number (BIN). Usually the name of the insurance company is on the card, and most of the time the name of the PBM paying the bill is not.

    The claim process

    When you enter the BIN number and the name of the insurance company, and then submit the claim, it is quite often denied as not covered. You don’t know whether the patient is not covered or the drug involved is not covered, which requires a phone call. In the meantime, you have to contend with a “patient” who cannot understand why it is taking so long just to fill a prescription.


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