My Upcoming Vacation, PLUS: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Can’t You Cut a Girl Some Slack?

I may not have told you this yet, dear readers, but I am spending all of August in Europe visiting Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, and three cities in Croatia; Split, Hvar, and Dubrovnik. This is a trip I’ve dreamed about for a long time, and my wonderful new employers at The American Prospect were kind enough to trade me an August vacation for working these few weeks in July. Why Central Europe? A big reason is that I’m fascinated by the Jewish history of Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Berlin in particular has excited me since I took a class on twentieth century Germany with Omer Bartov. As for Croatia, you’ll find me at the beach.

Since I’ll be away for a month, I called my insurance company on Monday to ask how I can make sure I have enough of my medicine to last. "Just go to the pharmacy and have them call us," the guy told me. So yesterday, that’s what I did. After a long phone call, the friendly pharmacist told me my pills would be available July 18. Today, the 18th, I returned to the pharmacy. A different pharmacist pulled out my drugs, and said the insurance company would cover two months of my migraine medication, but not my birth control pills. The migraine meds I take are powerful neurological drugs that reduce the flow of blood to the brain. The birth control is, well, extremely common and safe.

I told the pharmacist, "No way am I paying out of pocket." She called Blue Cross Blue Shield. They told her I had to have my ob-gyn call them directly for "prior authorization," directly contradicting Monday’s information.

At this point, I was getting really angry. Why on earth does a woman need a doctor, a pharamacist, and three different insurance company bureaucrats to sign off on her request for 60 days worth of completely safe oral contraceptives? These are pills that are sold over the counter in other Western nations, for crying out loud! And speaking of silly, I resent the fact that I have to traipse to CVS every 28 days to get my new pack — paying $35 for it after coverage — when this is a medication I use every single day. Why can’t I buy in bulk?

Okay, sorry to vent that frustration. But that’s what a blog is for, right?

7 thoughts on “My Upcoming Vacation, PLUS: Blue Cross Blue Shield, Can’t You Cut a Girl Some Slack?

  1. Klein's Tiny Left Nut

    Budapest is great.

    I once went to the sunny island of Hvar (billed as the least rainy place in the Adriatic) and of course it rained biblically for three days. Pretty place, but very challenging drive from the ferry as I recall.

    Dubrovnik was beautiful, but I’m so old I saw it before the breakup of Yugoslovia. I don’t think it got trashed.

    Enjoy yourself, it sounds like a great trip.

    The hastle of getting medication when you travel is incredibly annoying. It’s inconceivable I guess that we will be away from home for periods of weeks. But it must be worse for the Canadians, right?

  2. Abi Addison


    Hope you get your meds situation sorted out soon! Just a bit of clarification — triptans don’t actually reduce the flow of blood to the brain. During a Migraine attack, blood vessels in the brain become dilated. Triptans just work to return those vessels to normal.

    Again, good luck!

  3. scarlett lion

    Hey Dana,

    How are you? I’m Glenna… My brother Grant is good friends with Ezra Klien, whose blog I read and prompted me to start reading yours. Meant to say hello for some time but this post made me NEED to say hello. I live in Uganda and had the same medicine problem time 100 since I LIVE here and needed to get meds for many months at a time… I don’t have Blue Cross Blue Shield, but anyway, I’m sure the procedure is similar… what you need to do is get a VACATION WAIVER, followed by a perscription written for multiple months. The vacation waiver then has to be faxed to the pharmacy before you file the perscription so that they know it’s okay to fill for so many months.

    But I’m totally with you about OTC pills… it’s ridiculous. I’m worried that my pills will run out before I go home again and then trying to convince Ugandan customs that I’m not importing E when my mom’s sent me contraceptives.

    Anyway, love your blog! Keeps me updated on interesting American things… if you’re at all interested in anything Ugandan, check me out at or

    Take Care,

  4. Courtney

    check out Seasonale. You get 3 months of birth control at a time. But then you have to pay $100 at a time as well. Tell me insurance companies, why isn’t this cheaper? This little pill is a LOT cheaper than covering my expenses if I were to become preggers!

  5. Dana

    Hey everybody, thanks for the support and information! Glenna, I’ve met Grant a few times, nice to internet-meet you! Of course I’ll check out your blog!


    i have blue cross and blue shield and i am disabled. by the time i pay my household bills i have nothing left to pay for my medicines or even pay for the doctors fee which is $20 every time i go. i have 2 preps now in my purse that i need but i have no money to get them filled. PLEASE PLEASE I NEED HELP. I CAN BE REACHED AT 413-731-8352 OR 404-288-3424 ON WEEK-ENDS. WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHERE IN GA I CAN GO AND GET HELP WITH MY DOCTORS AND MY MEDIC. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>