A mail order pharmacy works for me

Janet recently described her experiences with a locally-owned, independent pharmacy. Her story takes me back to memories of a similar pharmacy in my youth. The pharmacist knew every family by name and would ease the stress of the frantic parents by filling prescriptions for their sick children late at night at no extra charge. He went further by allowing families to pay for all prescriptions once a month from a mailed invoice. He believed that no child should have to wait for critical medicine until Mom or Dad’s payday. He put his patients first and his business thrived. Both of his pharmacies were successful for decades in a town of less than 15,000.

Then Walgreens moved into town. Their expanded hours and lower prices were tempting to many patients. It was difficult to compete. He might have had the energy to fight back had he not been long past retirement age. Eventually, he sold his inventory and patient list to Walgreens then accepted a position in their pharmacy as semi-retirement.

I don’t live in a small town anymore. The closest pharmacy is two miles away and they don’t deliver. None of the staff know me by name. The lines are long and the delays even longer. They are always training new staff, so orders get delayed or filled incorrectly. When medication is needed, someone must drive to pick it up. Sometimes the critical medicine needed is out-of-stock. As I am often house-bound, this means that I must wait on the availability of others to get the medicines I need to feel better.

When Medicare kicked in last month, I was able to compare plan options and choose the right one for me at a very affordable rate. I ended up choosing Humana as my Medicare alternative and Part D provider. I was really surprised to discover how much money and time I could save by choosing their mail order pharmacy. Only two of my medicines were cheaper at the local chain because they are Tier 4 on the formulary. Every single preventive medicine is covered 100% and is delivered to my mailbox every 90 days. Like clockwork, the pharmacy works with my doctor to ensure routine delivery so I never run out.  There aren’t any shipping fees either.

I also receive a $50 monthly credit for OTC medicines. I can get all of my allergy medicines, OTC pain relievers, bandages, first aid ointment, and more. To top it all off, they made arrangements with my medical equipment supplier to ship new CPAP masks, tubing, and filters every 90 days, too.

Because my body is so sensitive to weather changes, I have to time my outings very carefully. Eliminating the need to get out just for medicine gets rid of a whole range of migraine triggers. It is also saving me over $1200 a year. The relief I feel, knowing that I don’t have to keep track of refills is huge. I didn’t realize how much I stressed about it until the reason for that stress was gone.

I’ve never been a fan of mail order pharmacies. They’ve been available with every insurance plan I’ve ever had.  At no time did any of them actually offer online tools that helped me compare price savings. Today, when I receive a new prescription, I can use Humana’s online tools or mobile app to show the exact price before I ever step foot in the pharmacy. I’ve even used it during doctor appointments to help my doctor make a prescribing decision. No more surprises. No more sticker shock.

Prescription costs are the biggest routine out-of-pocket expense with Medicare, even if you have Part D coverage. During open enrollment I was able to compare the coverage of my ongoing prescriptions between multiple Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. By knowing in advance, I was able to make the most affordable choice. It’s such a simple thing. I really don’t understand why this isn’t standard for all health insurance plans.

We all know the dangers of skipping doses. By choosing a mail order pharmacy, I reduce the risk of a sudden increase in attacks because I don't run out of medicine. For the moment, I can’t imagine not using Humana’s mail order pharmacy service. Thanks to this service, I will never run out of critical medicine.

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