By Tom Woller, Senior Vice President, Pharmacy Services
Mail order pharmacies offer benefits to both employees and their employers.
Added convenience and improved drug regimen adherence are two primary reasons why cost-conscious employers encourage employees to have their prescriptions filled through a mail order pharmacy.
Potential cost saving is another potential benefit, too. In many cases having a 30-day or 90-day mail order prescription can be less expensive than having the same prescription filled each month at a brick and mortar pharmacy. Employers often incentivize employees to use mail order, especially for maintenance drugs used to treat chronic health conditions — resulting in benefits to both employer and employee.
Improving drug regimen adherence
For patients dealing with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or asthma, taking medications exactly as prescribed is key to managing their disease — and controlling overall health care costs.
Keeping employees on their maintenance medications is a vital step in helping them become as healthy as possible. Using a mail order pharmacy can actually raise the level of employees’ adherence with drug regimens and treatment plans. How so? Here’s a real-life example to illustrate the point:
Added customer convenience
Robert (not his real name) is a 39-year-old IT security analyst who has high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Last year his doctor told him he was “pre-diabetic” and prescribed medications to help control his blood pressure and reduce his cholesterol. Robert started taking his daily medications, but his hectic life and variable work schedule often got in the way.
More than once Robert failed to order his prescription refills ahead of time and ran out of his medications. He said, “I didn’t like waiting in line at the pharmacy to order or pick up my meds after work. Sometimes I worked late and the pharmacy was closed before I got there. I know these aren’t good excuses, but my own health often took a back seat to everything else. Last fall my employer sent out information about our 2018 health care benefits. I read about the mail order pharmacy option and decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.”
On his next visit to the doctor, Robert asked for prescriptions for a 90-day supply of each of his two medications. His physician was happy to comply, since this would encourage Robert to take his medications every day and eliminate the hassle of monthly refills.
Robert sent the prescriptions in to the mail order pharmacy, along with his credit card payment information. “The process was so simple, and it ended up saving me money, too,” he recalled. “My first order arrived in about a week. Now my prescriptions automatically arrive through the mail and I haven’t had any late refills or missed doses since then. I feel like I’m on a good path to better health.”
There may be some exceptions, but most mail order pharmacies will offer:
• lower out-of-pocket costs for many prescriptions, including generic drugs
• notifications (by email or text) when it’s time to refill medications
• easy-to-use online tools for ordering and tracking medication refills
• no shipping charges on standard delivery
• medications delivered right to the home in discreet packaging
• accuracy checks by experienced mail-order pharmacists who provide personalized support and can answer medication-related questions
In addition to educating their employees on the value of mail-order prescriptions, savvy employers will continue to explore all available options in an attempt to reduce pharmacy expenses and better manage prescription utilization — with the end goal of keeping their employee base as healthy as possible.
Tom Woller RPh, MS, FASHP, is Senior Vice President, Pharmacy Services, at Aurora Health Care