As states begin to reopen, it’s important to keep in mind that people are still contracting the virus and you should still take all of the necessary precautions. There are services that allow you and your loved ones to stay home and do the things that might have once required a trip to the store. Whether it be getting the ingredients from the local grocery store to make a new banana bread recipe, or ordering food from your loved one’s favorite restaurant, more and more businesses are offering home-delivery services to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of “mail-order” prescriptions has increased.
Here you will find information on:
- Why you and your loved one should avoid the pharmacy during a pandemic
- How to request a refill over the phone or through a telemedicine portal
- Prescription by mail services and your insurance
- Long-term benefits of receiving prescriptions by mail
Why You Should Avoid the Pharmacy During a Pandemic
During the pandemic, it’s important to limit your trips to the pharmacy as much as possible. If you do go to the pharmacy, be sure to leave at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and others in line. Droplets from sneezing, coughing, and speaking travel about 6 feet, so the closer you are to someone, the greater chance of infection. Because older adults are more likely to have underlying conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses, your loved one is at a higher risk of becoming infected with the virus. It’s especially important that they wear a mask, gloves, and use an alcohol-based sanitizer if they go in public. However, they should try to avoid going into public as much as possible. It’s critical that you follow all the necessary protocols when going into public to ensure that you don’t spread the virus to your loved one. 80% of COVID-19 infections are mild or asymptomatic. Just because someone doesn’t seem sick, it doesn’t guarantee that they aren’t spreading the virus.
If going to the pharmacy is an absolute necessity for your loved one, it may be helpful to write a list of all the medications your loved one takes as well as over-the-counter medications they may need. This helps limit the number of times anyone in the family leaves home to visit the pharmacy, and ensures that necessary medications aren’t forgotten. Additionally, the HIPPA Privacy Rule allows the pharmacist to give a prescription to a relative or a friend so you could pick up your loved one’s prescription for them.
Requesting Refills Over the Phone or Through Telemedicine Apps
It’s also important to avoid going to the doctor’s office unless it’s an emergency or there are no alternatives available. Telemedicine allows patients to receive advice and treatment from a medical professional, without needing to leave their homes. If your loved one needs a new prescription, services such as HeyDoctor allow them to communicate with a health professional via phone or computer, no insurance necessary. After the virtual visit is complete, the prescription will be sent to a pharmacy or directly to your loved one’s home. The best part is these services are cheap and prompt.
If you or your loved one prefers getting medication from the pharmacy, check to see if there is a drive-thru! You can pick up the prescription without having to step foot inside of the pharmacy. To refill a prescription by phone, all you need is the prescription label that can be found on the bottle or packaging of the medication being refilled. There, you will find the phone number of your pharmacy. Once you call the number, you will most likely hear instructions from an automated voice, asking for the name and birthdate of the patient, as well as the prescription number. Once you input all the information, they will notify you when your prescription is ready, limiting your waiting time as well.
Prescriptions By Mail Services and Your Insurance
The safest way to receive prescribed medication during the COVID-19 pandemic is by mail. A “mail-order” prescription is when a prescription is delivered to someone’s door, versus having to pick it up from the pharmacy. A doctor or a healthcare professional sends the prescription to a mail-order pharmacy where it’s filled, run through insurance, and mailed to you or your loved one! Many large pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS offer prescription delivery services, usually for no extra charge. However, it typically takes a couple of days to mail the medication, so prescriptions by mail are not ideal if your loved one needs their medication immediately.
Mail-order pharmacies typically work through your insurance company and its pharmacy benefits manager (PBM). The co-pay differs between traditional pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies, as mail-order pharmacies operate through insurance. If your loved one has Medicare Advantage or Medicare part D, it may be a good idea to call and ask about the difference in cost between traditional and mail-order prescriptions. It’s smart to know and understand what the costs are and if the insurer has a preferred pharmacy to use for mail-order prescriptions.
Long-Term Benefits of Receiving Your Prescriptions By Mail
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many health insurance plans enforced refill restrictions that wouldn’t allow you to get a refill until day 24 of a 30 day supply. However, the American Pharmacists Association issued a statement on March 13th that asked health plans and benefit managers to waive these restrictions. Now, you and your loved one can obtain larger quantities of medication without having to refill the prescription as frequently. This directly benefits those who use mail-order services, as your insurer can buy medications in large quantities directly from the drug manufacturers. This lowers the overall cost of medications and allows for prescriptions to be delivered in 90-day bulk supplies.
There are several benefits of mail-order prescriptions, in addition to receiving larger quantities of medicine at a lower price. For example, many mail-order pharmacies offer 24/7 services. This is helpful if you or your loved one have questions about their medication outside of business hours. There are also long-term health benefits associated with mail-order prescriptions. A study presented at the 2016 International Stroke Conference found that patients that received their medications by mail adhered to their medication 74% of the time. Patients who received their prescriptions from a traditional pharmacy only adhered to their medication 47% of the time. It just takes one step, opening the door, to receive any prescribed medication. Having it available, right in front of them, increases the chances that they will actually adhere to treatment.
Prescriptions that are delivered to your loved one’s door are convenient. It takes one thing off of the to-do list and eliminates the risk of forgetting to refill a prescription. There is no longer a need to wait in the pharmacy for the prescription to be ready, and most importantly, there is no longer a risk of being exposed to COVID-19.
The health and safety of your loved one are important, especially in the middle of a pandemic. If you have questions about how to manage your loved one’s medications and prescriptions, or for insights on what services could be beneficial for both you and your loved one, Homethrive’s Care Guides are here to help you – we even work with pharmacies that offer mail-order prescriptions and can get your loved one all set up!