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What is pharmacy delivery?

Now more than ever in the wake of COVID-19, getting prescriptions delivered safely is an essential part of staying healthy for many. Some drugstores offer delivery services that make it easy to get the medications you need mailed directly to you. Whether you’re unable to travel in-person to a pharmacy because of social distancing, illness, or for other reasons, prescription delivery may be the right option for you. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what pharmacy delivery is and how it works.   

What is pharmacy delivery?

Pharmacy delivery is the process of getting your prescriptions mailed to you directly from the pharmacy you use to fill your prescriptions. Instead of having to physically drive to a pharmacy location, prescription delivery makes it convenient to get your prescriptions without having to wait in line or drive out of your way.

Pros

  • Convenience: The most appealing thing about pharmacy delivery is that they save people time. Instead of having to wait in line for hours, you can have your medications delivered straight to your home. Most pharmacies allow advance payment and automatic refills.   
  • Safety: Getting your medications delivered straight to your home is the safest option, especially during COVID-19. It allows people with illnesses or disabilities to remain in the safety and comfort of their home instead of having to make extra trips to a physical drugstore. 
  • Confidentiality: Prescription delivery services are also safe to use in terms of patient confidentiality. Patients can use their own secure pharmacy profiles to place their order, which ensures the privacy of every individual. Home delivery is also a discrete way to refill prescriptions that you’re uncomfortable talking about in-person.
  • Consistency: In the United States, an estimated 30% to 50% of medications aren’t taken as prescribed, which may be because it can be difficult to remember or find time to go to the pharmacy when it’s time for a refill. Pharmacy delivery services may help improve medication adherence because they take those steps out of the process.

Cons

Pharmacy delivery is a great option for some people, but it does have a few downsides to be aware of. 

  • Delivery fees: Many pharmacies will charge a delivery fee that will increase your total price at checkout. While the delivery fee may be about $5, this can add up, and for some people this may not be doable. 
  • Mail order delays: Receiving your medications in the mail can also take longer than picking them up in person. If you need your medication right away, it may be a better option to stop by a physical pharmacy because it could take several days for your medication to come in the mail.  
  • Pharmacist interactions: By choosing to have your medications delivered instead of going to pick them up, you also lose the ability to interact with your pharmacist face-to-face. While it’s certainly possible to call your pharmacist on the phone and have them answer questions you may have, some people may miss being able to directly talk with their pharmacist about their medications, especially if they’re starting a new prescription.

Which pharmacies offer prescription delivery services?

Most major pharmacies offer home delivery services, including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walmart. So, there’s likely a pharmacy near you that can deliver your prescriptions to your home.

These pharmacies may have slightly different policies regarding home delivery. For example, not all Rite Aid locations offer home delivery. Delivery times may also vary. Walgreens offers express delivery, which could get your packages to you as early as one to two business days via FedEx. CVS Pharmacy even allows customers to add non-prescription items to their order besides their prescription medications. It’s always a good idea to do your research and call the pharmacy you’re interested in using to make sure you fully understand their prescription delivery services.

Mail order pharmacies vs. pharmacy delivery services

Pharmacy delivery services are similar in nature to mail order pharmacies, but they differ slightly. With pharmacy delivery services, a doctor will call in a prescription to a local pharmacy. Then, a pharmacist fills the prescription and processes the customer’s insurance information. Finally, they either give the customer their prescription directly or mail it to them.

Mail order pharmacies are a little different. “The term ‘mail order pharmacy’ typically means a pharmacy that is owned by a large pharmacy benefits manager who will offer these services on behalf of their health plan clients,” says Jason Reed, Pharm.D., a pharmacist at Atrium Medical Center in Ohio. “The benefit is offering longer day supplies (although 90-day supplies at retail pharmacies are more common now) and lower copays for members.”   

“Pharmacy delivery services have started to pop up so that regular retail pharmacies can compete with the service and convenience of having medication delivery to the home,” Dr. Reed explains. “The major retail chains and many independent pharmacies will now offer delivery services to their patients, sometimes even for free. Another component of pharmacy delivery services is companies such as Uber and Lyft that will get prescriptions from a retail pharmacy and deliver it to the patient. Keep in mind, there will be fees for this type of service.”

Pharmacies that offer delivery services don’t typically offer 90-day refills as mail-order pharmacies do. They also tend to be a little bit more expensive. Another difference is that mail order pharmacies can deliver controlled substances and specialty medications that require refrigeration, which most pharmacy delivery programs can’t do.

Pharmacy delivery vs. mail order (recap)
Pharmacy delivery services Mail order pharmacies
  • Offered by major retail chains and independent pharmacies
  • Owned by large pharmacy benefits managers offered via health insurance
  • Sometimes free
  • Larger refills (90-day supplies)
  • May have faster delivery
  • Can deliver controlled substances, specialty medications, and refrigerated supplies

Is pharmacy delivery covered by insurance?

Insurance coverage for pharmacy delivery costs will depend on what type of health insurance plan you have. Some insurance plans will offer partial coverage for prescriptions delivered by mail, and some may not offer coverage at all. Even if your insurance covers your prescriptions for in-store pickup, you still might have to pay delivery fees if you want those same prescriptions mailed to you. Delivery fees vary by pharmacy.   

How do I get my prescriptions delivered? 

If you’re interested in getting a discount on your prescription and getting it delivered to your doorstep for free, setting up prescription delivery with SingleCare and our partnership with GeniusRx is a great option. Here’s how to get started:    

  1. Search for your medication on singlecare.com/prescription-delivery to see if it’s eligible for our prescription delivery service.
  2. If your medication is eligible, you’ll need to provide some basic information, such as your delivery address, to our trusted delivery partner GeniusRx.  
  3. Purchase your prescription online with your Visa or Mastercard.   
  4. Get your prescriptions delivered to your home address with free shipping, available to all 50 states.

With many people experiencing delays in receiving their prescription orders through the U.S. Postal Service, SingleCare is offering a free hotline to help facilitate free prescription delivery from local participating pharmacies. Our goal is to help you access critical medications without having to experience delays on the prescriptions they need. 

If you have any questions about home delivery, we’re here to help. Our specialists will help determine whether there is pharmacy delivery available in your area. Then, they’ll identify and connect you to a local participating pharmacy that will provide free prescription delivery. Feel free to call our pharmacy delivery hotline at 800-222-2818 or find us on Facebook.