BC/BS of MA needs to support PillPack

Three years ago I came home from one of my usual breakfast meetings at Henrietta’s Table and told my wife Amy that I’d met these entrepreneurs who started a company that had a service that she would love.  One was a pharmacist and the other a smart young tech guy @ MIT – killer team with a great idea that just seemed obviously better.

She rolled her eyes and muttered something under her breadth that sounded like “here we go again”.  While I am the eternal optimist  – she’s a bit of a skeptic – one of the many reasons I love her.  She was probably expecting another type of Android device or Sonos to show up at the door.  Most of the random stuff that I drag home is either uninteresting or a waste of her time – however – this time it was different.

Three days later she got a PillPack box.   Within weeks she told me she couldn’t imagine what it was like to manage our medications before PillPack.  Within months – she had her parents signed up.  This was a non-trival change because their pill situation(like many folks) looked something like this :

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PillPack was just simply a better way to deliver medication to people who need them.  Perhaps most importantly – it is a fantastic service for those of us that remotely manage our parent’s care to ensure that our parents (who can’t remember the day of the week) get the right medications in the right doses as simply as possible.

Then – last week we got this letter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of MA :

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First of all – I can’t believe that BC/BS cares where I get my prescriptions filled – my relationship is supposed to be with BS/BS – not CVS or Rite Aid – or ExpressScripts whoever they are.  Second – I was thinking – why doesn’t BC/BS just include PillPack directly in their network instead of going through ExpressScripts.  Then I read the 2nd page of the letter which is here:

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So is this guy – John A. Fallon MD is suggesting that I go to one of three pharmacies in Manchester NH – even though his employer – Blue Cross/Blue Shield of MASSACHUSETTS – knows that I live in Cambridge, MA.  REALLY?  These are the people who supposedly care about my health and wellness – and yet they want me to drive up to NH to fill my prescriptions every few weeks – really?  What’s going on?

Then I went to this site : https://fixpharmacy.com/ – and realized that I was not alone 😦

My guess is that PillPack has become so successful that they have begun threatening the establishment in pharmacy and as a result – a bunch of people and companies who think that putting pharmacies at the back of a retail store is a good thing.  Honestly – it’s just not – stop trying to subject me to retail upsell in order for me to get the medications that I need.

The other reason they are doing this is that ExpressScripts has their own mail order service that is threatened by PillPack.  In this case – all I can say is innovate or die – new innovations like PillPack don’t happen at big companies like ExpressScripts or BC/BS – it happens when motivated, smart entrepreneurs do things that others think are impossible.  ExpressScripts – if you haven’t built a service that is as popular as PillPack – maybe it’s a message that you just can’t do what needs to be done in the next level of pharmacy.

The most offensive thing for me is that my Healthcare plan provider – Blue Cross/Blue Shield is in bed with these people who want to control where I get my pills.  Not which pills I take – or if these pills are branded or generic – but where I actually do my shopping…really?  Didn’t we sort through most of this in the 1990’s : Barnes and Nobel vs. Amazon, etc – and realize that the old brick and mortar companies that don’t embrace what’s best for the consumer will go out of business?  I guess not – the monopolistic behavior of companies like ExpressScripts and Blue Cross/Blue Shield is hurting me.  I wish they would just get on board with PillPack and we can all move on with our lives.

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