ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Seniors have serious concerns regarding mandatory mail-order pharmacy requirements in prescription drug plans, according to a new national survey of 669 Medicare Part D beneficiaries released Thursday by the National Community Pharmacists Association.
"Mail order is not for everyone. … Patients deserve a choice and they don't like being told which pharmacy they have to use," stated Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO. "The findings of this survey should be a significant red flag for policymakers. First, policymakers should oppose requirements or further inducements to steer patients to mail order pharmacies against their preference," he said. "Second, employers and other sponsors of private health plans that require the use of mail order should reconsider their prescription drug plan's design."
Nearly two-thirds of seniors indicated they were fearful of losing access to the pharmacy of their choice if they were required to use mail order. In addition, a majority of seniors expressed concerns about using mail-order pharmacies, including running out of their medications; obtaining prescriptions in a timely manner; lost, stolen or damaged medications; and the ability to consult with a pharmacist they know and trust.
The opportunity for that face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist that a patient has when patronizing a community pharmacy helps to reduce medication waste that may be associated with mail-order, auto-ship programs, Hoey noted. "They also provide services unique to the community, such as offering same-day home delivery or fulfilling patient-specific requests. These services not only benefit the patient, but also benefit the healthcare system by reducing the number of preventable, bad outcomes that often lead to costly hospitalizations or emergency room visits that drive up healthcare costs."
Other key findings from the survey responses include:
NCPA noted that in recent years both New York and Pennsylvania have enacted laws giving many patients the ability to transfer prescriptions from mail order to a local pharmacy that agrees to accept the same pricing terms and conditions.