Same day appointments

Primary Care Physicians maintains 20% of each day’s schedule available for same day appointments. Every provider in the office has appointment slots to accommodate urgent same day access. We limit the use of those appointment slots for urgent needs or acute problems and not for chronic management. While we know patients are busy and pressed for time, we would like to have the ability to work a patient into the day’s schedule for a sore throat or headache or the high blood pressure identified at the dentist’s office. Getting a same day appointment for a camp physical or a 6-month follow up appointment for hypertension isn’t always possible. But we can likely see you tomorrow or later this same week.

By having same day appointments, we reduce the use of the emergency room for non-emergent care. We also reduce the splintering of  care that happens when people go to walk-in clinics.

While a walk-in clinic may advertise that they take your insurance, if your insurance carrier hasn’t contracted with that specific clinic, you may receive a SIZABLE bill for services. Most patients must pay a percentage of care or may have a large deductible. Many diagnostic tests require prior authorization. Walk-in clinics do not have your active medication list and can prescribe drugs that interact with your daily medications. The walk-in clinic may be more convenient but they may be more expensive and create new problems.But in the atmosphere of defensive medicine, the walk-in clinic (and the emergency room) will often over test and order more diagnostic tests necessary to cover their liability. They don’t know you the way your family doctor knows you. They don’t have the time or philosophy that your family physicians has to know you and your medical issues.

Also, we often do not get records and have no knowledge of your illnesses and treatments.

It’s why we keep our daily schedules partially open. We want to take care of our patients and will make every effort to get you seen as soon as possible.

Mandatory 90 Day prescriptions

 

On April 5th, CVS Caremark mailed letters to state of Florida employees on Blue Cross Blue Shield giving them notification that any chronic medications would now be filled ONLY through the CVS Caremark mail order process. This is MANDATORY. It is very likely that state of Florida employees received (by mail) prior warning that their medications must convert to 90-day quantities after the initial three month grace period,  but we think it is likely that people discarded those envelopes unopened.

This creates dilemma on multiple levels.

1.      You may be out of medication.

2.      You could fill a bridge prescription at your local pharmacy but it will be at full cash cost. Your insurance co-pay will NOT apply to the filling of the local, 30-day prescription.

3.      Your physician may not want to give 90 days of a medication. Maybe the dose is being adjusted. Maybe the medication has proven ineffective. Maybe the medication is a controlled substance.

Patients who take medications that are absolutely necessary to maintain their chronic disease states should NOT abruptly stop ANY medications. This includes blood pressure meds, asthma medication, antidepressants, diabetes medications, anti-coagulation drugs like Plavix or Coumadin. Stopping medications can increase your risk for adverse events. Abruptly stopping can also cause severe discontinuation syndromes. If you are uncertain if your medications fall into the ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY categories, please call the office @ 352.377.2022. Leave your message on the voice mail for your physicians medical assistant.

There are chronic medications that could be held temporarily without risk. This will save you the cost of paying CASH to fill a bridge 30-day prescription. You can hold lipid lowering drugs, hormone replacement therapies, osteoporosis treatments, reflux medications, anti-inflammatory drugs used for arthritis, sleep aids and most topical medications.

We at Primary Care Physicians understand that the changes to your insurance benefits are beyond your control. It is purely associated with the state of Florida diligently trying to maintain high quality medical insurance coverage for their employees while managing the ever escalating cost of that insurance. These changes to your prescription drug coverage is the state’s attempt to manage (and maybe lower) cost. We are proud to be Blue Cross Blue Shield providers and are very grateful that the state has continued to provide health insurance through a company with whom we are providers.

It is our mission as your primary care providers to collaborate with you and operate within your insurance coverage as much as possible, to be mindful of your out of pocket expenses and to also be mindful of the overall cost of delivering you the highest quality medical care.  But please be aware…there are recommendations we will make….recommendations that are truly the best standard of care….that your insurance company may NOT consider necessary.

A patient has rights. And a patient has responsibilities. Know your rights. Know your responsibilities. Get online and verify the new benefit structure for your insurance plan. Services once covered may no longer be covered.

Prescription Drug Plans

One of the most expensive parts of medical care is the cost of medications. For primary care providers, these are the drugs used to treat diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol disorders, depression, infections and gastrointestinal complaints. The Publix pharmacies will now dispense for FREE some antibiotics. These are the most common antibiotics used for community acquired infections. Publix also will fill some diabetes medications, such as metformin at no charge. If you have a Publix brand glucometer, they will also fill the test strips at no charge. One recent change in diabetic care guidelines is that patients with Type 2 diabetes, or insulin resistant diabetes, may not need to check their blood sugar using a finger stick any longer. The glycohemoglobin that is ordered by your doctor is usually all that is needed to assess how well your blood sugar is controlled.

A few years ago, Prilosec was released to be sold over-the-counter(OTC). The Prilosec OTC is the exact same medication as the drug once available only by prescription. Now, a few other proton pump inhibitors used to treat reflux esophagitis will be sold over-the-counter. Prevacid is now available OTC. Soon, Zegerid will be available, too. Most insurance companies will refuse to cover the prescriptions forms of these OTC drugs. Additionally, they will require proof of use and failure of TWO of these OTC brands before they will paid for any of the remaining proton pump inhibitors. Prilosec is sold as a store brand and will be labeled Omeprazole. It is the most inexpensive option and has the exact same efficacy as once prescription only Prilosec.

Remember, reflux is often easiest to treat by avoiding the common triggers: large meals, late meals, lying down within two hours of a meal, carbonation, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and peppermint. Also, being overweight can contribute to reflux.

Lastly, the drugs used to lower cholesterol or triglycerides now have generic choices. Depending on how much of a reduction is the goal for your cholesterol, the choice of drugs may vary. It is best to make an appointment to see your provider to discuss other drug choices. Please note, there is no generic for Lipitor or Crestor.

There is a drug coupon website that may also be helpful.  www.internetdrugcoupons.com