Mail order pharmacies rock… mostly

I completely underestimated the savings for filling prescriptions through the mail. I’ve had generics for ages, so I never bothered with it.

But Tim’s brand name inhalers are $53 at Walgreens. Ouch. We went to the HMO pharmacy and found out our big savings of… $8. If we get the generic.

That’s when I started taking the mail order option seriously.

We found out that a three month supply will cost $112.50. We’d otherwise pay $90 a month for two inhalers. For those of you playing along at home, that’s more than 50% off.

While I’m thrilled with the savings, actually setting it all up was a debacle.

The form we had to mail in required a physical prescription. The doctor’s office insisted on calling it in. The pharmacy insisted we’d still need to fill out and mail off the form. So we mailed off the form riddled with “prescription called in by doctor” notes.

Naturally, two days later the pharmacy contacted us based on the doctor’s call-in. They asked all the questions and filled out the form for us. Thank goodness we went to all that trouble.

Interestingly, while she reviewed just about every detail of Tim’s health and verified the names of the prescriptions, the pharmacy rep never actually verified the prescription amounts.

We didn’t think anything of it, until the package arrived with just three inhalers. We were still charged us the $112.50, of course.

Turns out, it’s a flat rate for any three month supply. So at least the rate wouldn’t go up once we corrected the prescription.

That said, we were still out of luck for the current batch. I figured we had to wait until the next shipment was sent. Meanwhile, that meant paying $45 for each of the three inhalers he’d need before three months was up.

Luckily, Tim wasn’t so defeatist. Actually, he was downright pissed. He more or less refused to get off the phone until we were assured either three more inhalers or a 50% refund.

Thank goodness he was so stubborn. It took some back and forth with the doctor and pharmacy. But we ended up getting the missing three inhalers without paying another cent.

Guess I’d forgotten one of the major rules of frugality: It never hurts to ask.

So, now it’s all fixed. Well, in the hallowed tradition of bureaucracy they made things more complicated. Instead of sending the three missing inhalers, they sent us a full three month supply. Then charged us half the normal cost. I’m sure that makes sense in some computer somewhere.

Point being, the bureaucracy monster has been assuaged, and we now officially pay $112.50 for six inhalers (normally $45). Which means we’re saving $630 a year.

Which is why I say mail order pharmacies rock… mostly.


  1. Stella says

    Ugh–I had the same issue with my doctor and mail order pharmacy: Flat rate for 3-month supply is $87.50 (for brand) vs. $105 in pharmacy. Not a huge savings, but hey, every little bit helps, huh? I explicitly instructed my doctor's office as to the correct amounts for a three month supply but still they faxed in the wrong amount and I ended up getting less than half a month's supply for that flat rate. Fortunately, my doctor accepted responsibility for the @#$% up and reimbursed me. She also made double sure to get the corrected amount right (plus I made sure to verify before the pharmacy completed my order!).

    • Abigail says

      Glad to hear it worked out okay. I don’t think our doc would have reimbursed us, so I’m glad it could be worked out with the pharmacy itself.

  2. Barbara says

    I just found out my Flovent inhaler now has a $64 per month copay (which I cannot afford), and there is no generic form in the U.S. There are generics in some other countries. Has anyone tried mail-order pharmacies outside the U.S.?

    • says

      Is that the mail-order pharmacy co-pay? Youch. I used a Canadian pharmacy for awhile for Provigil. Not covered on Medicare and $300 a month. Or, through the place I used, $350 for a 3 month supply. I had a good experience. I switched to Adderall, since it was easier (and legal). So I don't remember the name.

      I checked my old statements and it was billed to Global Health Solution Richmond BC. But I think they were dba another name. There is a Global Health Solutions (note the s) in Richmond listed in a few places.

      You can also check out a clearinghouse like That *may* be where I found my pharmacy. It seems familiar but it was 7 years ago, so it's all a little hazy. The clearinghouses will help you find the best price, at least. Hope it helps!

  3. Kat says

    Thanks to having shoe string insurance (pre existing conditions suck- and what insurance you can get for them, you pay through the nose for), I'm stuck eating the full cost for my scrips. This kind of sucks when the condition that makes your insurance so expensive requires daily medication, and means you can't take most of the "cheaper" alternatives. One thing I always do is call around. has a price checker, but the information isn't always perfectly accurate, so confirm before you buy. is another one- and it compares mail order places as well.

    • Abigail says

      Good point about the price comparison. I wouldn’t have thought of that. You’ve almost certainly already thought of this, but make sure you look into discount prescription plans. They might provide at least a little bit of relief. Sorry to hear about that. I used to have pay for Effexor ($300+ a month) so I feel your pain.

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