When a natural disaster strikes, Regence makes sure you can get your medications
Imagine getting the order to evacuate your home. You’re in the path of a wildfire and need to leave now. Adrenaline spikes. A million questions flood your mind. Where’s your family? What about your pets? Who’s going to help your elderly neighbor? What should you take? Will you have a house tomorrow? Where will you and your family live? And that’s just the first 10 seconds.
Your prescriptions are probably the last thing you’re thinking about. But, if you depend on a daily medication to control your blood pressure, you’ll need it to maintain your health, especially under stress.
One less thing to worry about
Our pharmacy team monitors state and federal websites for state-of-emergency declarations. In the last 12 months, FEMA has recorded 29 major disasters, including Hurricanes Maria, Lane, and now Florence. States are also able to proclaim states of emergency. Between state and federal declarations, our team logs about one state of emergency a week. As of this writing, the team is tracking 13 natural disasters nationwide.
Our team makes it easy for our members to get the medications they need in emergencies. Once a state of emergency is declared, Pharmacy Services triggers protocol behind the scenes to let our members fill prescriptions at any pharmacy, even if it’s out of network, and temporarily waive restrictions such as “refill too soon” and pre-authorization for existing prescriptions. If any bumps occur in filling a prescription, we reach out to providers to resolve questions or secure any needed authorizations. If the provider has also evacuated, our emergency fill process allows for a three-day supply of medications. Controlled substances require a different protocol. Members can call us, and we will coordinate with their provider on their behalf.
Member support any time, any place
“After Hurricane Maria, many people in Puerto Rico were constantly moving, constantly displaced,” said Sue Schreiner, vice president of Pharmacy Services Operations. “We kept our protocol in place for six months to ensure members could get their prescriptions filled, wherever they were at the time.
“Our pharmacy customer service team is also available 24/7, and they have my cell number for escalated cases. We don’t get a lot of phone calls during disasters because we have a process in place that’s pretty seamless for the member.”
Recommendations for disaster preparation
Our pharmacy team does not recommend stockpiling prescription medications for emergency kits. Prescription drugs have expiration dates, and some require special handling and storage. We can’t guarantee the safety or efficacy of medications stored for a long period of time.
The following are recommendations from our pharmacy team for emergency preparedness.
Don’t stockpile prescription drugs for emergency kits. Prescription drugs have expiration dates, and many require special handling.
- Make a list of prescription and over-the-counter medication and dosages you take regularly. Keep your list and phone numbers for your doctors and pharmacies in a waterproof bag or container.
- Carry your member ID card at all times. Regence or our pharmacy benefits manager can help you get an emergency supply of any lost or damaged medication.
- Reorder your medications as soon as you are able. Consider ordering a 90-day supply through home delivery or 90-day pharmacies, and don’t wait until you are out of medication to refill your prescription.
- Keep your medications together. Keep them in their original containers with original labels and store them in a waterproof bag or container.
- Prepare for special needs: If your medication requires refrigeration or electronic equipment, have a plan for temporary storage and administration.
- Share your medication disaster plan with your doctor, especially if your medication has special shipping or electronic equipment requirements. Also discuss plans for your child’s medication with your child’s daycare provider or school.’