Getting meds and supplies through mail-order: pros and cons

What are the advantages and disadvantages of getting prescriptions through mail-order compared to getting them every month from a local pharmacy?

What are reasons people don’t use mail-order?

The first major advantage I can think of is price: from what I remember, the minimum for a mail-order is three month’s worth of meds, so I’d be getting three month’s worth for one copay (x) instead of paying a copay for each month (3x) if I get it from a local pharmacy.

(As a diabetic who’s overweight, I’m on tons of stuff: meds for hypothyroidism, blood pressure, hypertension, cholesterol, and depression, plus diabetes supplies, which include insulin vials, syringes, insulin pens, pen needles, test strips, lancets.)


It is definitely less expensive for me. Also, hanging around the drugstore with a bunch of sick people who may be getting antibiotics for the creeping death is not my idea of a good time. I can order mine on the web.

The only thing that I have complained about was excessive packaging, and that is getting a little whiny, even for me.

I’m sure the cash price is cheaper through mail-order. I’m wondering if they take insurance. It would be a lot cheaper for me as nothing is available in generic form yet.

Most mail-order prescription benefits are offered through insurance companies, who contract with the pharmacies. Ask your health-benefits administrator at work about it.


My wife is a North Carolina state employee, and she has to order all her monthly meds online. Her insurance requires it.
If she goes to the doctor and receives a one-time prescription, she can get it filled at a pharmacy. But her birth control pills and Lexipro is shipped in.

If your doctor will do it, you can get the three at a time from the pharmacy (although you’re right - it still is three co-pays). At least, that’s how my last BCP script was set up - my doctor indicated on the script that I should get three at one time, and Walgreens filled it, no problem. But I didn’t get a break on the co-pays, so there’s no real benefit.

I was going to sign up for the mail order pharmacy thing through my insurance, but it was rather restrictive. First, I had to send them the script - which I didn’t have anymore because I was in the middle of a year when I wanted to make the switch. If I didn’t have it, there were more hoops to jump through so that they could contact my doctor and such. Second, this particular one didn’t even have my brand, and to get it added I had to go through more hoops. So I ultimately didn’t pursue it.

Whatever mail order pharmacy you go through, be sure to check with them first to be sure that they carry the medication you’re taking.

One “con” that has kept me from doing it is a concern about not having a local pharmacist to go to with questions, etc. That service is worth the expense and trouble; I am willing to patronize a local drugstore in recognition for that valuable service.

However, I’m not someone who needs a substantial amount of medications and supplies that I use routinely. If I were diabetic, the mail order option would likely make a lot of difference and make too much sense not to do.

I have been in a pharmacy overhearing a frustrated patient beg for help because her mailed scrip hadn’t gotten to her in time; she was leaving on vacation and needed a supply of drugs but had no scrip for it anymore. I assume that’s unusual, however (and her first call should have been to a doctor for 3-day supply or whatever; I don’t know what she thought she was going to gain harrassing the local pharmacist)

For maintainence drugs you use everyday, it’s definitely worth it. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars every year using mail order offered through my insurance at work. I’ve never had a problem. I’m really hoping that my new job offers this. Plus, as someone who hates getting refills at the pharmacy (really hits my impatience buttons) I love that my meds just show up at my door!

I’m a diabetic and asthmatic. I have no health insurance. If I weren’t mail-ordering my medications from Canada I’d be spending about $600 per month on medications alone. That’s just insane. With Canadian drug prices I’m spending about 1/3 of that.