Prescriptions have always been a hassle to deal with whether you need a new one or a refill. You’d have to call your doctor, make sure they’re covered by insurance, confirm with the pharmacy, and go get them. Nowadays many sources offer automatic online refills and prescriptions that you can get conveniently shipped to your door. There are upsides and downsides to refilling online versus in person, so let’s dive in to consider both options.
Refilling your medications at a pharmacy is the classic way to go, but doing it online feels much easier. Many factors of the processes are similar, but a few stand out that set them apart:
A pharmacy is a safe place to discuss the medications you take in confidence and comfort. The transaction itself is fairly simple (assuming your prescription is covered by insurance) and the pharmacists are there to help you. Even so, there are some personal things you might be reluctant to bring up in an in-person setting. In terms of privacy, online prescriptions are fairly anonymous, and you don’t need to worry about anyone overhearing your conversation.
Getting such a prescription (like birth control or medication for a sexually transmitted infection) delivered straight to you circumvents stressful in-person interactions. This is often preferable unless you have a good relationship with the pharmacy or its employees themselves. If discretion isn’t a concern, a brick-and-mortar pharmacy still holds value in this regard depending on your familiarity with it.
The cost of either service depends heavily on factors like your insurance coverage and the provider of said service. Online prescription delivery prices can vary widely based on the company and the cost of shipping, but the convenience is priceless. Getting your prescription from a physical pharmacy is fairly straightforward because you’re doing the legwork of picking up. All they have to do is ensure your coverage, fill the prescription, and hold it for you.
On the other hand, within the varying prices of delivery, there are affordable options available if you’re interested. If cost is the only thing stopping you, then do some research to make sure you aren’t missing anything. You might be surprised at the options provided even by your own insurance, including those that might otherwise go unnoticed.
The distance of your home to your chosen pharmacy is an important thing to consider. Do you want to make the drive every time your prescription runs out? The farther you are from your pharmacy in this regard, the more convenient online refills will be for you. As long as you receive packages at your home, you can explore this option comfortably.
It may not be worth it, however, if you live in a metropolitan area like New York or London. Why spend a little extra when you can walk three blocks to the nearest pickup? This is a situation where it may be less of a hassle to keep doing things the same way. Ultimately, though, there are exceptions (like if you lead a busy life) that keep the delivery option on the table.
Supporting Independent Business
Convenience aside, your economic values are also important to think about when making this decision. Due to their large market presence and funding, it’s easier for insurance companies to offer prescription delivery than smaller businesses. If your local pharmacy does offer it, the cost is likely more for them to bear. Alternatively, there are also online pharmacies that are smaller or more independent, so you can still adhere to your values.
All this is to say that the benefits of getting your prescriptions online depend on your situation. You might simply prefer to continue picking up medication in-store in order to support a small independent business near you. Or maybe you have a disability and your pharmacy has a delivery option you can use and still support them. Do what works best for you!
One of the common issues people often have with the refill process boils down simply to memory. Without attention to your pill count, you can easily find yourself scrambling for a refill the day before they’re gone. The main benefit of online prescriptions is that they are delivered cyclically — meaning that you never need to remember. If you’re one of these forgetful people, you can skip all of that chaos by using an online service.
There can be other considerations even if you don’t have this kind of memory trouble, of course. In terms of objective proactivity, however, online prescription and delivery services are indisputably the better-sounding choice. There is very little action required on your part during the refill process, so you never have to worry. Getting your meds is as automatic as (and as dependable as) getting your mail.
Online prescriptions are more immediately convenient and private, but in-store prescriptions are often more affordable/economically beneficial. Remember to take your needs into account when considering which one to use. Delivery can be incredibly helpful for those who are immunocompromised or have disabilities, for example, regardless of other factors. Think about all of your needs, and try to make the choice that works best for your lifestyle.