Getting mail-order prepackaged medication through your insurance provider is an increasingly popular option that you have probably considered recently. Mail-order pharmacies are often less expensive than in-person options, and with the COVID-19 pandemic necessitating lockdown measures staying away from a place with many potentially sick people may seem like a no brainer. Mail-order medication isn’t right for everyone, however. Here are 5 things to consider before using a mail-order pharmacy.
1. Compare the Costs
The first and most obvious thing that you’ll want to consider is whether using a mail-order pharmacy service will be advantageous for you financially. Depending on your insurer, discounts can be significant, particularly when it comes to medications for chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. For those meds, you may be able to order a three-month supply of some drugs for a co-payment of just a few dollars. But before signing up, you’ll want to make sure you’ll benefit. That means comparing what your insurer’s mail order pharmacy will charge (including shipping) with your local pharmacy’s prices. Many insurance companies offer good deals with local pharmacies, so you will want to consider things carefully before choosing to switch to mail-order.
2. Mail-Order or Online?
Mail-order pharmacy services are often confused with online pharmacy services, and there is a huge difference between the two services. Mail-order pharmacies operate through your health plan and require that you have one particular kind of insurance, while online pharmacies tend to operate like an ordinary pharmacy and may or may not accept your insurance. You should carefully consider your options, especially since many insurance companies are working to prevent your insurance from being used outside of their particular mail-order pharmacy. A mistake at this stage could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you choose the wrong service, so you’ll want to look at things carefully before committing to any mail-order or online pharmacy service.
3. Urgent Medication
While mail-order pharmacy services can be an advantage if you’re looking to save some money or not have to go to your pharmacy in person, there are some drawbacks. One of the largest drawbacks lies in the way that mail-order pharmacies are structured. In general, mail-order pharmacies will send you your prescriptions in 90-day batches, with each package taking up to two weeks to come to your door. While this is fine for regular medications, if you have a condition such as asthma where the medicine is administered less regularly and is needed immediately after being prescribed, mail-order pharmacy services may not be right for your circumstances.
4. Keeping Track of Interactions
Even the most routine and seemingly benign medications can have potentially deadly interactions with other medications. This is one of the chief advantages of in-person pharmacies, since pharmacists are trained to keep track of and notice any potential interactions between your various medications. If you choose to move to a mail-order pharmacy service, make sure to keep your regular pharmacist up-to-date on what medications you are receiving through that service. That way, if you are in need of an urgent medication and choose to get that medication through an in-person pharmacy, your pharmacist will be informed and able to do their job in keeping an eye on potentially harmful interactions.
5. Keep Potential Miscommunications in Mind
One of the biggest disadvantages of a mail-order pharmacy service is the potential for delays and miscommunication. Packages can be lost or delayed in the mail, putting you in a potentially fatal position if you are relying on a mail-order pharmacy for life-saving medication. Mail-order pharmacies might auto-renew your prescriptions without confirming if you’re still taking a drug or whether your dosage has changed. If you are using a mail-order pharmacy, make sure to stay active in the same way that you would with your regular pharmacist. The distance established by online communication and regular email alerts may lull you into a sense of security, but you should check in regularly to make sure that you are continuing to receive the best service possible.
Mail-order pharmacies are becoming increasingly popular, and their advantages are numerous. By keeping these 5 things in mind, you will ensure that any relationship you have with a mail-order pharmacy will be as positive an experience as possible.