Chances are, you’ve heard of prescription delivery services. You might have received offers in the mail from them. Or your health insurer might have sent you notices encouraging you to give its preferred mail-order pharmacy a try.
However, you might be on the fence about whether to make the switch to drug delivery. Here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons of prescription delivery services.
How does prescription drug delivery work?
There are a variety of prescription drug delivery services that will mail medications to you or deliver them directly to your doorstep. Major pharmacy chains such as CVS and Walgreens offer same-day delivery services, as do many local pharmacies.
Walmart Pharmacy and Costco Pharmacy will ship prescriptions through their mail-order services. Amazon now has an online pharmacy and will ship prescriptions (for free for Amazon Prime members). And its PillPack service not only offers free shipping but also sorts your medications by the day and time you need to take them.
Some health insurers even have their own mail-order prescription drug service or partner with a prescription benefit manager such as Express Scripts to offer prescription delivery for members.
If you currently have health insurance coverage or have prescription coverage through Medicare Part D, start with your insurer to find out what sort of coverage it offers for prescription delivery services and whether it has a preferred provider. Or, if you’re happy with your current pharmacy, you could check to see if it has a delivery service. The pharmacy or delivery service should be able to walk you through the process of signing up if you’re interested in having your medications delivered.
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Pros of prescription delivery
There are several reasons to consider having your prescriptions delivered:
It’s convenient because you don’t have to leave home to pick up prescriptions. Your medicine is delivered directly to you, which can be especially helpful if you are unable to drive or have difficulty leaving home because of a disability or health issue.
It can save you the time and hassle of going to the pharmacy and waiting in line to pick up prescriptions. If you live in a rural area, prescription delivery can eliminate the need for long drives to get your medication.
It might save you money if your insurance provider offers lower copays for prescriptions purchased through mail-order services, particularly prescriptions purchased in bulk 90-day supplies. Many chain pharmacies and big-box retailers such as Walmart also offer discounts if you buy three-month supplies directly rather than through insurance and opt for delivery, according to Consumer Reports. Amazon Pharmacy offers up to 80% off medications for Prime members when paying without insurance.
It’s easier to adhere to medication plans and avoid missing doses if you sign up for automatic refills through a prescription delivery service. No more worrying about forgetting to pick up your prescriptions.
There’s no need for face-to-face contact during the pandemic. So you can reduce potential exposure to the virus.
You might have 24/7 access to a pharmacist. Many mail-order pharmacies offer customer support and access to a pharmacist at any time of the day.
Cons of prescription delivery
Prescription delivery isn’t right for everyone. It’s important to consider the drawbacks, too.
You lose face-to-face contact with pharmacists. Although you’ll still have access to pharmacists by phone or email is you use a mail-order pharmacy, you won’t get the same personal touch you might enjoy by going to a pharmacy and interacting with the pharmacists there.
Medications might not arrive on time if there is a delay in mail delivery. There’s also the chance that a package could be lost, stolen or damaged. Plus, mail delivery isn’t ideal for prescriptions you need filled immediately rather than those you take on an ongoing basis.
Not all prescriptions are eligible for delivery. There are special requirements for shipping controlled substances, such as certain pain medications. So if you take certain drugs, you need to confirm with the prescription delivery service that they can be shipped. Also, compounded medications and medications that need to be refrigerated might not be eligible for shipping.
Talk to your health insurance provider first to discuss what sort of prescription delivery coverage it offers, whether your specific prescriptions can be delivered and what the cost difference is between mail order and filling your prescriptions at a pharmacy. Also, discuss with your doctor whether it’s a good idea to receive the prescriptions you take through the mail or a delivery service. Having this information will help you decide whether switching to prescription delivery is the right choice for you.
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