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3 ways mail-order prescriptions benefit seniors

If you’re in need of prescription medication, your health has been impacted in some way. The last thing you want is for your schedule to be affected, as well.

Instead of arranging transportation to the pharmacy and waiting after arrival, or if you’re just having trouble remembering to refill a prescription before it runs out, there’s another option that offers greater convenience and, for some members, lower costs. BlueCross can help you receive 90-day supplies of your long-term medications through the mail.*

Many people may be hesitant to try mail-order due to a variety of factors – it can feel a bit impersonal, there can be trust or quality concerns, or the process may seem daunting. But there are several reasons why BlueCross has given mail-order its stamp of approval.

Mail merit no. 1: convenience

The mail-order process was designed to consider all types of members, from those who prefer to get help over the phone to others who would rather go online and enter all of their information themselves.

“Mail-order is a safe and secure method for getting prescriptions filled, and it is becoming the norm,” says Destiny Gordon, manager of outreach services at BlueCross. “Many of our members appreciate that they don’t have to get out of the house. Our Medicare Advantage population in particular often has mobility and transportation challenges.”

“We’ve removed as many barriers for them as possible. They no longer have to try and drive, catch a bus or rely on a family member to pick up a prescription for them.”

Some members may question the quality of the medications they receive by mail since they’re not being obtained from a traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacy where a member may have built a trusting relationship with a pharmacist. This is a misperception we’re working to address.

Destiny Gordon BlueCross
Destiny Gordon, manager of outreach services at BlueCross

“Mail-order medications are subject to a quality dispensing program,” Destiny says. “They are checked to ensure they’re being pulled, prepared and packaged appropriately for a member’s specific prescription request as written by their physician.”

Mail merit no. 2: adherence

When members get extended supplies of their medications, they are more likely to take them as directed. And mail order makes that even easier.

For members with chronic health conditions – or seniors taking multiple medications – BlueCross has a three-pronged proactive approach to help make sure members adhere to a prescription plan, or follow the recommendations of their doctors. Our outreach efforts involve reaching out directly to members, physicians and pharmacists.

“Our certified pharmacy technicians place medication adherence reminder calls,” Destiny says. “These occur when a member will soon be due for a refill, or if he or she is past due. We help them through the process of getting the prescription refilled, including calling the doctor’s office or pharmacy and arranging shipment, if requested. We also seek to educate members on the importance of taking their medications as directed and the risks when they’re not. 

Members can opt to receive automatic alerts to let them know when it’s time to request a refill.

While convenience plays a large role in increased adherence with mail-order supplies, self-awareness is a factor, as well. Many who have gone through the mail-order process, whether by setting up their own account or letting BlueCross handle the bulk of it, have recognized a management gap in their care and have become a better-informed participant in it.

Mail merit no. 3: affordability

For Medicare Advantage members, obtaining three-month supplies of your medication can save you money in the long run. 

Some mail-order results in slightly lower copays as some Medicare Advantage members pay two and a half times their copay for a 90-day supply. For example, if a medication costs $10 for a one-month supply, then three months will cost $25.

These savings can add up and make a huge difference, especially for seniors on a fixed income with multiple and/or more expensive medications.

“One thing we’ve heard from some members is, ‘It’s hard for me to shell out more money upfront to get a 90-day supply,’” says Natalie Tate, PharmD, vice president of pharmacy at BlueCross. “This is why we instituted a payment plan option for members who use our mail-order pharmacy. Members will get their 90-day supply but have the option to break up their billing into three monthly payments.”

How to get started with mail-order prescriptions

Dr. Natalie Tate BlueCross
Natalie Tate, PharmD, vice president of pharmacy at BlueCross

“Getting your 90-day supply is easy to set up,” Dr. Tate says. “Our customer service team can take care of this for you, or members can set it up online. It’s a very straightforward process.”

There are just a few steps. First, ask your doctor for two prescriptions, one for a short-term supply and another for a three-month supply with any allowed refills. Before you use the mail-order service, have your short-term prescription filled at your local pharmacy and take the medicine for two weeks so your doctor can monitor your response.

When your doctor approves your refill, you can order your three-month supply online, by phone or by mail. You can have it sent directly to your home or post office box with free standard shipping. Have your member ID card and prescription number from a refill slip or a recent mail-order label handy before ordering. Payment options include e-check, check, money order or credit card.

And if you ever have questions, you can speak to a registered pharmacist by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call (877) 673-9165.

“At the end of the day, this option saves money and time, and through proper adherence, can help you properly manage your health,” Dr. Tate says.

“We want to make take the burden off of the member as much as we possibly can.”

*BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Inc. is a PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Inc. depends on contract renewal. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premiums and/or copayments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. The formulary, pharmacy network, and/or provider network may change at any time. You will receive notice when necessary.

About Jesse Thompson, Senior Communications Specialist

A photo of the authorJesse joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2017. A Chattanooga native, he has more than 15 years’ experience in content creation, management, and strategy for consumer audiences, including a six-year stint in health care marketing.

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