How Do You Get Mail-Order Prescriptions?

by Team eLocal
spilled open bottle of pills laying on the floor with pills scattered around

Are you tired of driving to the pharmacy and waiting in a long line just to pick up your scripts? Even when you call ahead for your prescriptions, you often have to wait. And the so-called “convenient” drive-thru line is anything but.

Mail-order prescriptions offer an alternative without the need to go to a brick-and-mortar pharmacy.

What Are Mail-Order Pharmacies?

Instead of having a traditional brick-and-mortar store, mail-order pharmacies accept your prescriptions and ship your medications directly to your home. They often work through insurance companies, so you might not have a choice of which mail-order pharmacy you use. Choosing a different one could result in your insurance not covering the medications.

Additionally, there are some online pharmacies that don't operate through a health insurance company. Your insurance may or may not cover prescriptions ordered through online pharmacies.

Can I Get My Prescriptions Through the Mail?

You can order most prescriptions through mail-order services. However, some medications are more difficult to obtain and require additional shipping considerations. For example, prescriptions for controlled substances must often be submitted directly from your doctor through a certified electronic system, and they have special mailing requirements. Medications that must remain temperature-controlled also have to be specially shipped to maintain the correct temperature. While you can get these prescriptions through a mail-order service, it's sometimes easier to get them locally.

Timing is also important. It can take 7 to 10 days or more to receive your mail-order medication. If you're running low on a medication you take regularly or need to start a new medication sooner, mail-order might not get the prescription drugs to you fast enough. Your healthcare provider might give you a shorter prescription you can fill in person to hold you over, as well as a regular prescription you can fill through a mail-order pharmacy.

If you're not sure whether mail-order prescriptions will work for you, consider the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Convenience: You don't need to go to the pharmacy and wait in line.
  • Fewer refills: You usually get 90-day prescriptions, so you don't have to refill them as often.
  • Multiple options: Mail-order pharmacies typically offer multiple ways to submit a prescription, either from you or directly from your doctor.
  • Cost savings: Prescriptions are sometimes cheaper through a mail-order pharmacy than a brick-and-mortar pharmacy.

Cons

  • Delays: There can be delays, or the packages can get lost, which could cause you to run out of important medications.
  • Less personal: You don't get the personal connection that comes with talking directly to the pharmacist at a brick-and-mortar store.
  • Temperature issues: Some drugs have to stay refrigerated, and others are sensitive to extreme temperatures. If your medication sits in hot or cold temperatures for an extended time, it could be less effective or unsafe for you to use.

Deciding whether to use a mail-order pharmacy comes down to preferences. If you have mobility issues or don't want to expose yourself to germs, avoiding a traditional pharmacy can be worth it.

Can I Order Prescriptions Through the Mail Via a Brick-and-Mortar Pharmacy?

Many traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, now offer mail-order options for your medications. Stores with pharmacies inside them, such as Walmart and regional grocery stores, often offer mail-order or delivery options as well.

How Do I Get My Prescriptions Through the Mail?

To get mail-order prescriptions, start by contacting your health insurance company, as they likely have a specific mail-order pharmacy you need to use. You can often find the pharmacy information on the insurance company's website. Alternatively, you can call them to find out which mail-order pharmacy to use.

You can typically submit prescriptions to a mail-order pharmacy online, by mail or by phone. Your doctor can usually submit the prescription electronically on your behalf. A pharmacist will verify and fill the prescription for you. Once the prescription is verified, the pharmacy ships it to your home.

Tips for Using Mail-Order Prescriptions

If you're ready to try mail-order prescriptions, use these tips to make the process more effective:

  • Verify the pharmacy. Using the mail-order pharmacy your insurance company covers ensures you get your prescription drug benefits and don't have to pay out of pocket.
  • Refill prescriptions early. Since it usually takes over a week to get your mail-order prescriptions, ensure you refill your medications early to account for delays.
  • Compare prices. Mail-order pharmacies are often cheaper, but you can also get 90-day prescriptions at brick-and-mortar pharmacies. Those prescriptions might be similar to the mail-order cost.

Many people prefer the convenience of mail-order prescriptions. Others prefer the personal connection of using a local pharmacy. Understanding how the mail-order process works and weighing the pros and cons can help you decide.

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