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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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Andrea
    4 years ago

    I just switched back to my local pharmacy after trying the suggested online mail-order pharmacy of my health insurance. I went around and around with this mail-order pharmacy trying to get my prescriptions filled. They haven’t heard from my doctor yet… he won’t prescribe the refill… 90 days went by like this and finally I through up my hands and went back to my local pharmacy. They do know my name there. They know all my prescriptions and I trust them with every new med it will be checked against my other meds. To me it wasn’t worth the $80 yearly savings for the hassle of dealing with the mail order pharmacy. I won’t leave my local pharmacy again!

  • BethBlue
    4 years ago

    I also use a mail-order pharmacy service (my husband’s insurance). My primary issue with them is that it takes too long for the patient to receive medication after the doctor sends in the prescription (often seven to ten days). On another note, I’m guessing that Medicare kicked in for you because you’re now receiving disability benefits. I applied for disability for the first time this spring; I was denied because my application was incomplete (not all of my physicians had yet submitted their reports). Do you have any advice for someone who is in the midst of filing her first appeal?

  • Tammy Rome author
    4 years ago

    I always have my doctor write the first Rx for just 30 days to a local pharmacy, then I add it to my list for refill from the mail order pharmacy. That way I can try out new meds to make sure they work for me w/o huge side effects and also I don’t have to wait.

    As for disability, the most important thing is documentation. Talk to your doctors about getting the records to SSA quickly. Plus, make sure that in the forms you complete, that you fully describe how bad it gets on your worst day. Tell them what you can’t do. Normally I don’t focus on “can’ts” but this is the time to explain the ugly truth. If you can’t wash dishes, prepare meals, and have trouble getting dressed or taking showers when you are at your worst, then say so. They won’t ask for it, but send them a detailed migraine journal. They need to see how often you have attacks, how long they last, what you do to help, what works, what doesn’t work, side effects of meds…everything we don’t want others to see. If you need special glasses to avoid bright lights, ear plugs for loud noises, etc. Make sure to share about the cognitive effects.

    Even though I don’t feel the pain most of the time anymore because of Botox, I still get all the other symptoms. Last week my husband asked me to do something very simple. To me it was garbled and confusing. Immediately I recognized that I was having a migraine attack and explained this to him. He waited a few hours for the attack to go away and then explained his request again. It really was so simple! That’s what migraine does to us, even when there is no pain. I couldn’t work like that.

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