By Martine G. Brousse
"The Medical Bill Whisperer... and insurance stuff too"
Patient Advocate, Certified Mediator
June 29, 2023
A few months ago, my next door neighbor, age 85, fell and started bleeding from a wound. I called 911. When the paramedics came, they asked for her medication list, and especially whether she was on blood thinners. My neighbor said she was not. She was wrong, as one EMT found out when he went through dozens of medication bottles. trying to compile a list at a time of emergency delayed her care, and could have been detrimental, or worse.
It is vitally important that you stay on top of your meds.
One of the first things you will be asked at each medical encounter for an accurate medication list.
Not only is it a requirement by the ACA ("Obamacare"), but consequences of not doing so could lead to non-compliance of a prescribed treatment, dangerous interactions, unsafe indications, grave allergic reactions, potential side effects and duplication (and overdoses) of prescriptions.
As all of those scenarios could end up costing you significantly from a clinical and a financial point of view, it is prudent that you spend some time and efforts getting it under control.
When it is estimated that 3/4 of patients do not take their meds as indicated, and that poor compliance with treatment costs the country billions of $ each year, the importance becomes even more urgent.
Here are some tips to help you list your meds and manage your list.
1. Keep a Rx Journal
The first thing to do is to go to your cabinet or tray, and index every bottle, pill and box you see. Divide them into "prescription" and "over the counter", and indicate next to each:
generic or brand?
indication (reason or diagnosis for taking it),
prescribed use (PRN meaning "as needed", or at specific times of day?)
frequency of use (times in a day and times in a week),
name of the MD who prescribed it,
and how long you have been taking it.
For a template, visit: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Forms/UCM095018.pdf
Think of keeping a Pill Card on you at all times, especially if suffering from a serious condition. Use a laminated index card, or scroll down for templates here: https://archive.ahrq.gov/questions/resources/pill-card.html#How
Now is also a good time to indicate each medication price. When you are bored, won't it be fun to check for generic versions, or shop around for cheaper alternatives? Since when is saving $ a waste of time?
2. Ask your Pharmacist
Don't recall what those yellow gel caps in your travel pillbox or those white pills in the box with a faded label are for exactly? Your pharmacist can help identify them, confirm who and when ordered them, and what their use is for.
The pharmacist can also give you instructions on how to dispose of expired Rx.
3. Don't forget Supplements
Supplements, vitamins, herbal remedies, Chinese-medicine tonics, natural therapies and other similar preparations may interfere with some prescribed treatments, lower drug effectiveness or cause side effects. Include them on your list, especially if taken for a specific medical condition.
Check them out at:
4. Visit your insurance portal
Your insurer keeps a detailed and accurate list on file of all the prescriptions you have filled under your policy, as well as where and when. You may request a print-out or download a list via your online portal.
This is also a good way of looking at how much each costs, and how prices may vary from one pharmacy to the next, or whether a 3-month supply delivered via the mail pharmacy is cheaper than 3 refills at your local drugstore.
5. Question refills
Unless you have Medicare Part D, and must now approve every refill before it is automatically dispensed, the refill process will likely bypass you (and too often your physician as well). A well-oiled machine, refills may be dispensed over and over unless your physician rescinds the order.
But because a prescription has a refill status open for many months, or even unlimited, does not mean you should automatically get it. If your condition has improved, if your symptoms are gone, or if they are worse, is when consulting your physician is advisable. Do you still need the drug? at the same dosage or frequency? should you switch to a better or more appropriate medication?
6. Use Apps
Apps help us keep that med list up-to-date, remind us to take a pill or let us know a refill should be called in. They can also transmit updated prescriptions or new information to physicians electronically. These apps (listed here are those with high reviews, not from my personal recommendation), are also helpful at keeping track of dosages and use when away from home.
EveryDose: Medication Reminder by Groove Health
Pillo by Pillo Care
Medisafe Medication Management by MediSafe Inc.
Apple Watch and iOS Health
My neighbor's bleeding was stopped and her physician was asked to consider adjusting her dosage to avoid future over-bleeding.
As for her Rx list, I trust her caregiver has finally made one.
Martine Brousse was a long-time Billing Manager for Physicians before switching to the side of patients in 2013. The move has allowed her to apply her deep expertise and vast experience of the intricacies of resolving all types of medical bill and claim payment issues in ways that directly and positively impact her clientsʻ finances.
(424) 999 4705 - F (424) 226 1330
@martine brousse 2023
@ the medical bill whisperer 2023