One way to save time and money on prescription medication refills is to use a mail order pharmacy. MedicareFAQ explains how mail order pharmacies work, why they’re increasing in popularity, and how they’re different from online pharmacies.
If you’d like to skip the hassle of going to the local pharmacy to refill your older adult’s prescriptions in person each month, consider switching to a mail order pharmacy.
Mail order pharmacies often offer lower-cost prescription refills that are delivered right to your older adult’s door through the insurance company’s contracted provider.
Over the years, mail order pharmacies have been growing in popularity, especially with people who are enrolled in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.
Nearly half of all Medicare Part D beneficiaries utilize mail order pharmacy benefits.
How do mail order pharmacies work?
Mail order pharmacies work similarly to traditional pharmacies, minus the in-person aspect.
Most Medicare Part D plans have mail order pharmacies that are assigned to each insurance carrier and give benefits to their policyholders.
Enrolling in a mail order pharmacy can be done a few different ways, but the easiest way is to have the prescribing doctor fax the prescription directly to the mail order pharmacy.
Since there will be a delay while the medications are mailed, if a prescription is needed right away, it’s a good idea to fill it for the first time at a local pharmacy and set up mail order for future refills.
Place refill orders up to two weeks before they’re needed to ensure plenty of time to receive the drugs or sign up for automatic refills, if available.
Why mail order pharmacies are popular among Medicare Part D beneficiaries
You might be wondering “Why are mail order pharmacies so popular?”
The easy answer is Covid-19. However, the global pandemic is not the only reason mail order pharmacy usage is on the rise.
Often, when using a mail order pharmacy through the insurance company, drug prices will be as low – or even lower – than at the local preferred pharmacy.
So you’re eliminating a time-consuming errand and potentially saving on drug costs as well.
Another reason mail order pharmacies are gaining so much recognition is because of their level of customer service.
When using a mail order pharmacy, sorting out issues with prescriptions, checking the status of refills, and getting answers to questions about prescription history is simple and can be done online.
In addition, most mail order pharmacies have a telephone helpline that allows you to speak directly with a pharmacist for assistance with whatever you may need.
Mail order pharmacy vs. online pharmacy
It’s easy to confuse mail order pharmacies with online pharmacies. However, the two pharmacy types are quite different.
When you think of a mail order or online pharmacy, you imagine ordering prescriptions and having them delivered right to your front door.
This is also true for online pharmacies, but that’s where their similarities end.
Mail order pharmacy
A mail order pharmacy is a service that the insurance company provides directly.
The mail order pharmacy can easily access insurance information, track prescription refill dates, and properly submit claims. They’re also able to supply 90-day prescription refills.
Online pharmacies are more like typical pharmacies or drug stores.
This means that they won’t always accept your older adult’s insurance coverage. Online pharmacies must verify the insurance before submitting the prescription order.
Often, Medicare Part D plans will only provide coverage if you use their specified mail order carrier and won’t provide coverage for medication you order through an online pharmacy.
Are mail order prescriptions right for your older adult?
To know if a mail order pharmacy is the best option for your older adult, consider the pros and cons.
Ask yourself “How will I benefit from the use of a mail order pharmacy?” If you want to eliminate the hassle of going to the pharmacy in person and waiting in line, you may benefit from the mail order option.
Comparing drug prices is also important.
You could potentially find that one drug may cost less through the mail order system, but another drug may be a higher price than from the local pharmacy.
It’s a good idea to shop around when using a mail order pharmacy to ensure you’re receiving the lowest cost possible for each medication.
Lastly, if your older adult changes insurance companies, it’s essential to compare their future mail order pharmacy to their current carrier. Some insurance companies offer great mail order pharmacies while others may not offer this service at all.
If you have questions about your older adult’s mail order pharmacy, the easiest way to learn more is by contacting their insurance company. They will have all the information needed to get started using a mail order pharmacy.
Recommended for you:
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- Get Medicare Advice From State Counseling Programs
Guest contributor: Jagger Esch is a Medicare expert and the founder, president, and CEO of MedicareFAQ. He has been working in the Medicare space for over 10 years. Jagger has a passion for sharing his expertise on Medicare to beneficiaries so they can be better prepared for health care costs after retirement.
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