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Do you want mail-order drugs?

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Medicare open enrollment, a retirement planning annual event, begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. This is Medicare recipients' opportunity to dump health care providers they don't like and switch to those that might serve them better as they manage their health in retirement.

Even if you are happy with your current Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, it pays to take a second look. Prices and services in this business change frequently, so spend a few minutes considering other possibilities.

If you are using or considering using a mail-order pharmacy to fill prescriptions, evaluate the findings of a recent survey by marketing information firm J.D. Power and Associates. The survey showed that on a 1,000-point scale, overall satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies is 792, or 22 points lower than the average score for chain drug stores, pharmacies located in supermarkets, and those based in retailers such as Wal-Mart.

This represents the continuation of a trend because satisfaction levels dropped 14 points in 2011. By comparison, overall satisfaction with brick and mortar pharmacies has held fairly steady year over year, with an average score of 814 in 2012, a slight decrease from 818 in 2011.

Here's how mail-order pharmacies stacked up.

  • Kaiser Permanente Mail Pharmacy, 847.
  • Humana RightSourceRx, 805.
  • Mail-Order Segment Average, 792.
  • Medco, 780.
  • Walmart Pharmacy Mail Services, 778.
  • Express Scripts, 775.
  • OptumRx, 772.
  • Walgreens Mail Service, 770.
  • Caremark, 763.
  • Aetna Rx Home Delivery, 745.
  • Cigna Home Delivery Pharmacy Program, 744.
  • Prime Therapeutics, 741.

What's the problem? J.D. Powers says mail-order pharmacies aren't necessarily perceived as particularly convenient. If you feel compelled to use one and there isn't a huge savings, chances are you will give the mail-order pharmacy a lower rating than you would if you felt you were saving a lot of money.

Another factor is the lack of regular and convenient access to a pharmacist, which many people say they value.

A bargain isn't a very good deal when you're not happy with the product, so think hard before switching to save a small amount of money.

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October 12, 2012 at 10:00 am

I worry about the stength of the medicine after it has been sitting in the hot/cold mail truck by the time it gets delivered