How to Choose the Best Pharmacy: Your Complete Guide
Over 50% of the United States population takes one or more prescription medications. Since you’re reading this, we’re going to assume that you’re among that group. We’re also going to assume that you know how difficult getting your hands on prescriptions can be.
Not only do drugs cost Americans a collective $325 billion per year but the convenience of accessing prescriptions can be a serious challenge depending on where you live.
The most effective way to improve your prescription getting process is to do business with the best pharmacy that’s available to you. Determining which pharmacy that is, is the purpose of this post.
Below, we walk you through tips that will help you weigh your pharmacy options which will hopefully lead you to choose the best provider.
Keep it Simple
In life, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones. The same principle applies to pharmacy selection.
If you have a healthcare provider, there’s a chance that they have an in-house pharmacy. In most cases, that pharmacy will be the easiest place to get your prescription filled and will offer you the best prices.
People that go to smaller doctor’s offices may not have the benefit of an in-house pharmacy. If your healthcare provider is a large organization like Kaiser though, we recommend simplifying things by getting everything done in one place.
Consider Local Options
Location is a huge factor when it comes to picking the best pharmacy. If you pick a pharmacy that’s far away, you may find it difficult to pick up your medication which could lead to you putting off your healthcare needs.
To avoid that, start your pharmacy search by creating a short-list of pharmacies that are within a 15-minute drive of your house. Almost all communities have a CVS, Walgreens, or another chain pharmacy within that radius.
Ask About Mail Services
One of the biggest revolutions in prescription fulfillment has been mail order services. With mail order, you can place orders online and your medication will get delivered to your door in roughly 3 to 5 days (if your pharmacy is based domestically).
This can be a massive convenience boost for people that have difficulty finding the time to pick up their prescriptions.
Some pharmacies that are partnered with healthcare providers offer patients mail order services for free. Others, like this pharmacy, will offer complimentary shipping if you buy prescriptions in bulk.
Weigh Price Differences
If you’ve never shopped between pharmacies before, it might come as a surprise that different pharmacies charge different prices. That’s why it’s imperative to consider what medications you need and how much different businesses charge for that medication.
What can cause more confusion here is that at many pharmacies, drug prices fluctuate. That can make it hard to budget for medical expenses.
Talk to a prospective pharmacy about the drugs that are important to you. Ask if they’ve seen fluctuation in those drug’s prices over the years.
By taking the time to understand a pharmacy’s price and fluctuation trends, you can set yourself up to pick a business that will offer you the best prices not just today but over time.
Confirm Insurance Acceptance
Not every pharmacy works with every insurance provider. If you rely on insurance to subsidize some or all of your prescription drug costs, you’re going to want to make sure that the pharmacy you’re considering accepts your insurance before placing an order.
A quick visit to a pharmacy’s website or a phone call can clear up any insurance questions that you may have. You’ll also want to double-check compatibility with your insurer.
Look Into Privacy Accommodations
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines state that all pharmacies must provide reasonable privacy accommodations to discuss a customer’s health needs. While compliance with HIPAA is mandated, some pharmacies do a better job of complying than others.
When considering your best pharmacy choices, inspect a pharmacy’s space to see if there are areas where you can have a private conversation. Also, read about a pharmacy’s reputation online to make sure that they have a track record of persevering their customer’s private medical data.
Consider Promotional Offers
In an effort to drum up business, many of the best pharmacies offer deals to their customers. These deals usually come in the way of coupons or bulk-buy specials that offer discounts if patients buy 3-months or more of their prescriptions.
Chain pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS are very aggressive when it comes to coupon circulation. There are also third-party coupon websites, GoodRx for example, that might offer regular discounts at a pharmacy that you’re considering.
Once you’ve considered the factors that we’ve discussed thus far, the last thing to look at when selecting a pharmacy is how good its inventory is and what kind of customer service they provide.
A pharmacy that offers great prices but never has/can’t prepare the medications that you need won’t be of much use to you. Similarly, a pharmacy that doesn’t value you as a customer is best avoided.
Wrapping Up How to Choose the Best Pharmacy
There are a variety of cost and service factors that go into determining what the best pharmacy is. Use our tips to weigh your options and we have confidence that you’ll end up picking a drug provider that makes managing your health simple!
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