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Getting prescriptions online saves time, money and privacy

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After researching many online pharmacies, three stand out as solid options for most consumers.

Pharmaceuticals are seen in North Andover, Mass.

Elise Amendola, Associated Press

While you may be used to heading to the pharmacy every few months to pick up a prescription, online pharmacies can save you a trip and help keep medications organized.

If you haven’t thought about transferring prescriptions to an online pharmacy, it may be time. A few clicks could mean no more standing in line at a brick-and-mortar location. Switching to an online pharmacy also results in more privacy, since no one behind you in line will ever overhear your conversation with the pharmacist. Most websites will allow you to set your Health Savings Account card as your payment selection and have options for using a co-pay option or paying without insurance. 

Be careful to only use licensed online pharmacies recommended by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Websites with unlicensed pharmacies could sell medicines that are fake, expired or contain dangerous ingredients. Your personal information could be in danger as well since they may not protect it.

After researching many online pharmacies, three stand out as solid options for most consumers.

Amazon Pharmacy has a helpful price checker to show the cost of any medication and what you’ll spend depending on whether you use insurance. Amazon Prime members get the best prices, saving 80% on generic drugs and 40% on branded medications when paying without insurance. Prices get cheaper the more you buy and there is even a six-month supply option for some of the most commonly prescribed medications. Pharmacists are on call 24/7 to answer questions but they do recommend using your local pharmacy for urgent medications such as antibiotics. Amazon Prime members receive free two-day delivery. Non members can pay $5.99 for two-day delivery or receive their medications free in 4-5 days. Amazon Pharmacy is not available in Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky or Louisiana.

Costco Pharmacy is another option where you don’t need to have a membership to use their services, but members definitely get the most benefit. If you are a Costco member and join its free Member Prescription Program, you’ll save the most money. They ship with the U.S. Postal Service with a standard delivery time of 6-14 days. You can pay $10.95 for three-day shipping or $13.95 for two-day shipping if you’re in a hurry. Be aware that not all insurance companies contract with Costco for mail order, so you’ll want to check with your company. Costco’s pharmacists are not available for consultation at any hour so you should check for hours of availability on the website.

Finally, Walgreens can be a smart choice, especially for those who live within 15 miles of one of their locations. They offer free same day delivery on eligible prescriptions at more than 8000 Walgreens stores (factors like holidays, weather and prescription type could make your order ineligible.) The next tier of eligible medicines deliver in 1-2 business days and the rest will arrive in 5-10 business days. Delivery right now is all free, but Walgreens says that won’t last forever. Free shipping across the board is only possible at this time because of the pandemic. Walgreens also offers pharmacists available 24/7 via chat for non-emergency questions.

Checking GoodRx for one of the most commonly prescribed medications for Thyroid, Levothyroxine (Synthroid/Levoxyl), prices without insurance for 30 tablets of a 25mcg dose vary widely. The website shows prices can be as high as $11.69 at CVS Pharmacy and includes a discount. By comparison, Amazon Pharmacy sells a 30 day prescription for $3.80 and it drops down to $3.20 per month if you order a 90 day prescription. Costco has a slightly higher price of $3.26 per month for a 90 day prescription and Walgreens is about double that price.

When you take into consideration that savings and add the convenience and privacy online pharmacies afford, it seems like a no-brainer to make the switch from using a physical pharmacy.

When you decide to start ordering your medications online, have your prescriber call whichever online pharmacy you choose to transfer all the information. Then sit back and relax knowing your prescriptions will arrive at your doorstep, often for a less expensive price than you would have paid by making a trip to your local pharmacy.