You can use the mail order drug service to have your prescription drugs delivered to your home. You skip the lines and inconveniences of going to the pharmacy. This article will explain what you need to know about the pros and cons of receiving your medication by mail order.
Using mail order pharmacy services has grown in popularity over the years. According to the 2020 analysis, 13.5 million U.S. adults obtained prescriptions by mail order in 1996, and by 2018 that number had grown to nearly 26 million. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the number of people getting prescriptions by mail: About half of prescription users have opted for mail-order medications since the pandemic began, a study shows.
Benefits of Mail Order Drugs
- Convenience: You can get a 90-day supply of every medication at home. Typically, you can get a 30-day supply at a walk-in pharmacy.
- You may save money: Your health plan may have lower copays for prescription drugs obtained through mail order than those obtained through regular retail pharmacies.
- You can easily order refills: If your prescription is up to date, most mail-order pharmacies allow you to order refills online, by mail, or by phone. Plus, you can do it any time of the day or night without worrying about whether a pharmacy near you is open.
- No face-to-face contact: As discussed below, this can also be a disadvantage. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to have prescriptions delivered to your home has helped many people maintain adherence to their medications while also staying safe from the virus. Some people simply prefer less face-to-face contact, which makes mail-order prescriptions a more comfortable option.
- Special Customer Service: Some mail order pharmacies offer special services, including:
Disadvantages of mail order medicines
- Safety concerns: If you buy medication in the mail from a reputable online pharmacy, you risk getting the wrong or counterfeit medication. Here’s what you need to know about making sure you use a safe, legal online pharmacy.
- Mail Delivery Issues: Packages handled by the US Postal Service, while safe and efficient, can be lost or damaged. Also, there is very little risk of your package being stolen from a rural or suburban curbside mailbox.
- Mail-order delivery can be slow: When you use a mail-order pharmacy, it can take up to two weeks to receive your medication. This may be fine if you plan ahead. However, if you wait until you run out of medication to order a refill, you’ll be charged overnight or one-day shipping, which can be expensive.
- No face-to-face contact with your pharmacist: One of your community’s most valuable health resources is your pharmacist. If you take multiple medicines and use over-the-counter medicines, your pharmacist can advise you about interactions and side effects.
How to Find a Mail Order Pharmacy
If you have a drug-covered health plan, you most likely have the opportunity to order your drug by mail. Most large health plans work with companies known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), which manage health plans’ drug benefits (CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and OptumRx are the top three BPMs; combined, they have nearly 80 % Prescription Benefit Market).These companies can buy medicines in bulk directly from pharmaceutical companies, and they can offer discounts on medicines you order in the mail.
Large drugstore chains, such as Walgreens and Wal-Mart, also offer services that allow you to order medications by mail. You can choose to pick it up at the pharmacy or mail it to your home. Additionally, large online pharmacies may offer 90-day discounted drug supplies, similar to chain stores and PBMs. Depending on your health plan and financial situation, you can get mail-order prescription drugs in different ways.
if you have health insurance
If you have drug coverage as part of your health plan, check your benefit booklet and your health plan website to see if your health plan uses PBM. Since your drugs are paid for by your health insurance, you are only responsible for the copays, coinsurance, or deductibles specified by your health plan (depending on the plan and how much you have paid out of pocket in the plan so far) the amount of the fee) year, you may be responsible for the full cost, although this will be negotiated by the health plan, not the retail price).
If you’re ordering a branded prescription drug, your best money-saving option is likely to be getting a 90-day supply from your health plan’s PBM.
For example, you might have a copay of $25 for Diovan (valsartan), a drug used to treat high blood pressure, for 30 days at your local pharmacy, and $50 for 90 days from your health plan’s PBM, Save $25.
However, if you are taking a generic drug, such as simvastatin (brand name Zocor) used to treat high cholesterol, your health plan’s PBM may charge $15 for a 90-day supply and your local Walmart pharmacy or supermarket Pharmacies may only charge $10 for a 90-day supply.
If you have Medicare Part D
Most Medicare Part D drug plans offer mail-order prescriptions. This works the same as regular health insurance, with a smaller copay if you order a 90-day supply of your medication from the plan’s PBM.
However, as you reach the coverage gap or doughnut hole, you may find that your out-of-pocket costs change, depending on how your plan is designed (the doughnut hole is technically closed in 2020, but this Just means – the pocket charge cannot exceed 25% of the cost of the drug while one is in the donut hole; this can still be different from what one would pay before entering the donut hole). Once you’re in the donut hole, you can continue to buy your 90-day supply through the Part D plan, but you can save money by doing comparison shopping. Your options include:
- Use mail-order services from big drugstore chains like Walmart and Walgreens.
- Use the mail order service of an online pharmacy certified by the National Board of Pharmacy.
In either case, you need to make sure the pharmacy you use (mail order or in person) is part of your Part D plan network.
If you don’t have health insurance
If you don’t have health insurance that covers your drug, there are several mail-order options that can help you get discounted prescription drugs.
AARP offers members discounted prescription drug plans. It is managed by OptumRx and is available in more than 66,000 pharmacies.
Some companies offer mail-order pharmacy services to people without health insurance. Some examples are:
- RxOutreach offers discounted mail-order prescriptions to people with incomes up to 400% of the poverty line.
- Xu Bisi
- good medicine
Tips for Using a Mail Order Pharmacy
- If you need a new medicine, ask your healthcare provider to write two prescriptions. One lasts two weeks and you can fill it up at your local pharmacy. Another is to send a 90-day supply to a mail order pharmacy. This way, you don’t have to worry about possible delays while waiting for your mail order to arrive.
- If you pay the full cost of the drug, ask your healthcare provider if generic drugs are available. Then check to see if the drug is available through a low-cost plan from Walmart, Target, or a supermarket chain. These are probably the cheapest options, with a 90-day supply of some drugs for as little as $9.99.
In most cases, you will find that you have the option of picking up your prescription at your local pharmacy or filling it by mail order. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Mail-order prescriptions have become increasingly popular over the years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mail order pharmacies are a very convenient way to get the medicines you need, especially for chronic conditions that require continuous medication. If you have questions or concerns about changing the way you get your prescriptions, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to help you decide if an in-person or online pharmacy will serve you better.