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Memo On Mail-Ordering Your Drugs

E-Pharmacy Shopping: Upsides & Shortcomings

At this time and age, ordering drugs through an e-healthcare store is pretty common. The pros are obvious: you take the legwork out of the equation, and you fill your prescription in a few clicks of a mouse. But much as with anything else, this practice is not devoid of disadvantages.

You can use mail-order drug services to have your prescription drugs delivered to your home. You skip the line and inconvenience of visiting a pharmacy. There are both benefits and drawbacks to receiving drugs by mail order.

The Pros Of Ordering Drugs Online

· Accessibility: Ordering from home, you can get refills for up to 3 months for each kind o of drug; typically, you won’t get more than 1 month’s worth at a physical pharmacy.
· Affordability: Oftentimes, your insurance will cover bigger part of the cost when you order from an online drugstore, which appear to be generally cheaper than brick-and-mortar pharmacies; you save on your copays.
· Refill services: For meds that you take chronically, e-pharmacies are life-changers: most of them provide automatic hassle-free refill services and reminders; you can refill your prescription anytime, anywhere.

Complementary care - A good many Web pharmacies offer services that add value:
· Automatic refills that will help you never run out of your drug supply; you can opt in for notifications reminding you that it is time to re-order your meds;
· More face time with your pharmacy technician in case of any questions
· Trackable order delivery
· Keeping track of all of your orders and prescriptions
· Informational support for customers spanning materials on conditions, therapies and patient trivia

The Cons Of E-Healthcare Shopping

· Incurred risks: In the pharmacy business, getting a counterfeit or subpar quality product is fraught with major health risks, therefore picking a trusted supplier is crucial.
· Shipping pitfalls: With postal services involved, the odds of your envelope sustaining a damage or getting lost or stolen from the mailbox are high.
· Delivery takes time: Ordering drugs online is not an option if you need your meds for immediate use. This is all fine when you are stocking up in advance, but be prepared to wait up to 3 weeks for your order to ship in and plan accordingly.
· Face time with your pharmacist will have to be virtual: It is still possible to request a consultation with a pharmacist online, but you will understandably miss out on talking to them in person.

Landing An E-Drugstore Worth Your While

Patients with a valid healthcare insurance can benefit from the services of PBM agents (public benefit managers). Those are middleman agents facilitating the access to prescription medications for large portions of population across economical strata, Medco, Caremark, and Express Scripts being the most recognizable ones on the US market. These companies acquire their supplies from multiple pharmaceutical manufacturers and can therefore offer wholesale prices and special cost programs to retail customers.

You can also save on ordering your drugs through the homepage of the pharmacy giants like Walgreens or Wal-Mart. You get to choose if your order should be dispatched to the local store or delivered directly to your mailbox. Consider also that you can benefit from a major discount when ordering in bulk amounts: a three month’s supply qualifies as a case for significant price reduction. In addition to that, there are always ways to increase your savings proceeding from your current insurance plan and budget.

E-Shopping For Health Plan Beneficiaries

The first thing you should do as a health insurance beneficiary is to scan for any eventual PBMs partnering up with your plan provider. After covering the deductible from your pocket, you will only have to top co-pay bills – those better be for much cheaper meds available with PBM vendors.

Besides, if generics are unavailable for the drug you are looking for, buying at a PBM website will dramatically low-ball the grand total on your three months’ batch.
To give you a feel for the price difference, here is what you will cover out of pocket for a month’s refill of hypertensive agent Diovan (valsartan): $25 – compared to $50 that it would cost you to refill your prescription for 90 days with a PBM reseller, equaling savings of $25 times three.
However, a three month’s batch of Zocor, or rather its generic simvastatin (high cholesterol drug), will cost $15 through a PBM dealer, while the equivalent amount at Wal-Mart costs $10. Goes to show that some legwork is required to find the cheapest retailer and minimize your co-pay.

For Medicare Part D Participants

If you are a subscriber to Medicare Part D, chances are your plan covers online drug ordering. The principles are the same as for the majority of insurance plans out there, but makes a difference when you order maximal supply (three months’) using PBM services. This works fine until you reach the phase of your Part D where the coverage halts, but in the coverage gap you might win by finding an alternative to your PBM supplier with lower prices still to be covered out of your pocket. These are feasible savings plans in the latter case:
· Shopping on the websites of major pharmacy chains (Walgreens, Wal-Mart, etc.)
· Finding a reliable e-pharmacy – check the list of trusted e-tailers at National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

For Uninsured Individuals

There is a variety of assistance programs to help you meet your medication needs in the absence of any insurance plan. For instance, the healthcare platform OptumRx partners up with more than 66k drugstores as a part of AARP initiative designed to facilitate access to low-cost under-the-counter drugs.
Finally, there are drugstores (RxOutreach, Xubex) providing meds at prices fixed between $20 and $40 for three months’ supply, but you need to prove an annual household income of less than $50,000 in order to participate.

E-Healthcare Safety Note

· Make sure you get your prescription in two variants from your doctor: one to be filled immediately to last you until the time your mail-order (three months’) supply comes in.
· In the absence of any health plan coverage, find out about the availability of a cheaper generic version to fill you prescription with. The next step is to look for patient assistant programs such as those offered at Target or Wal-Mart chains – it is not unusual to bag a bargain of under $10 for a three-months’ refill for selected meds.

Last Edit - 19 Jun 2020, write by David Kahan

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