An Ethical Dilemma: Serendipity or a Mistake that Needs Fixing?

A fellow Jblogger posted this on her blog yesterday, and she wanted my opinion. I asked her if I could post it here for your opinion – what do you think? WWYD in her situation?

I’ve got an ethical dilemma on my hands, and I’m seeking advice. But I think the underlying issue is very relevant to all of us: when a “good” mistake happens to us, is it serendipity or just a mistake that we have an ethical obligation to fix? (Apparently “fix” is a very Southern verb. Just go with it.)

Here’s my dilemma:

I take a daily medication. My bargain-basement student insurance (evilly, in my opinion) makes me fill it every month, even though it is available in a 3-month supply, which is significantly cheaper than purchasing one month at a time. I don’t know what happened this month, but they gave me the 3-month supply, and I didn’t notice until almost 2 weeks after I filled the prescription. I don’t have the receipt anymore, but I’m pretty certain I only paid the (higher-per-unit) one-month price.

Should I attempt to return the two extra months’ supply to the pharmacy? (I’m not even sure that they can take back “used” medication since it may have been tampered with.) Or, knowing that the next two months are going to be tight financially, has HaShem sent me a little goodwill?

UPDATE: Bright minds have confirmed that I cannot return the medication, but that I may be able to pay the difference. However, because of the insurance rules, I’m not sure that I would be allowed to. I might be liable for the non-insured price :/

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  1. For me, the first thing to do would be to double check the label for the bottle/container and see exactly what was typed out as they possibly could have known they were giving you 3-months supply. Second, if that is not the case call/go to the pharmacy and see if they can verify what was given. There could be a problem if they indicate you were given 1-month and then you don’t show up for 2-months to renew your script and so your provider (doctor and insurance) both think you’ve skipped your meds for 2 months. No need to go into a dissertation of you got 3-months blah blah blah. Just ask to verify your records.

    Mistakes happen in every job. If you’ve verified that the pharmacy records say you got only one month, then call the insurance company. Talk to a customer rep and explain to them that you were getting ready to go in for a refill when you realized that you still have meds and you believe you were given more than the 1-month supply you usually get and how should you handle any payment for the overage. If the pharmacy says they gave you 3-months, then go from there and tell the insurance company you were given a 3-month supply b/c you verified it with the pharmacy. If the pharmacy records say they gave only a 1-month supply it will be hard to tell them that indeed you got a 3-month supply. If it is a controlled substance they would have caught it by now, likely, because they are counted every day to account for EVERY bit of it. Standard Rx are not usually inventoried, although, at some point they’ll realize their are 2-months short on your med. There is not likely a specific mechanism for the pharmacist to go back and know exactly how the inventory got out of calibration.

    Put it out there that you’re willing to pay for the goods you received.

    Let them decide what to do. Deal directly with the insurance company, not the pharmacy.

  2. i work for an insurance company says:

    either the insurance company will pay the pharmacy or they won’t.
    if they do the pharmacy can choose to bill you or not. it’s up to them.
    If the insurance company does pay them just take it and forget about it. They make the rules, they can break them.
    The amount of trouble it takes to iron out a glitch in general isn’t worth it for them.

  3. i work for an insurance company says:

    believe me no one is interested in handling all those nuisance phone calls described by the first commentor. I certainly am not.

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