Getting Your Medicine With Mail Delays

Access to medicine is important. Drug regimens are part of treating many health conditions, and delays in taking drugs can have serious effects on health and well-being.

Many people get their medicines delivered in the mail. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people who are deemed higher-risk do not want to leave their houses or cannot leave to pick up their medicines.

Medicine delivery delays

In recent weeks there have been slowdowns with the United States Postal Service (USPS). This has caused major delays in delivering mail and packages – including necessary medicines.

The USPS handles about 1.2 billion prescription shipments every year. That’s nearly 4 million per day, 6 days a week. A recent poll found that 1 in 5 Americans got medicine through the mail in the past week, and 1 in 4 of them had a delay in their delivery or their medicine was not delivered.1

Medicine delays can be a serious problem for a lot of people, including:1

  • People with chronic health issues
  • Older adults
  • Veterans
  • People living in rural areas

In light of mail delays, there are other ways to make sure you get your medicines in a timely manner and reduce the risk that you will be in a situation without the drugs you need.

Other ways to get your medicine

If you don’t want to take a chance with mail delays, there are other ways to get the medicines you need, including:2,3

  • Talk to your pharmacy about home delivery. Some pharmacies do their own medication home deliveries, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Talk with a family member or trusted friend about picking up your medicine. HIPAA privacy laws allow a family member or friend to pick it up for you.
  • Ask your doctor and your insurance company about a 90-day supply instead of a 30-day supply to reduce trips, deliveries, or pick-ups.
  • Talk with your doctor about how many refills you have left and whether you need to come into the office in-person for refills. Sometimes they will allow telehealth visits in order to reduce your exposure risk.

Many pharmacies also offer curbside pick-up or have drive-thru windows where you can pick up medicine more easily and minimize exposure to others.

If you have to order by mail

Sometimes we have no other choice than to order prescriptions by mail, whether because of our location or insurance requirements. If you have to use the post office or other delivery methods, you can take steps to reduce the chance that you will not have the medicine you need because of delays. These include:2

  • Ask your doctor if samples of your medicine are available to pick up in person if your mail is delayed. This can help you avoid going without treatment.
  • Call your insurance company to ask about early refills to allow for delays in mail delivery.
  • Ask your insurance company about different delivery options, like UPS or FedEx. However, it is important to note that these methods will likely cost more than USPS.
  • Talk with your doctor about what to do in case of a mail delay – before one even happens. You can also discuss possible alternate medicines that you might be able to get from a local pharmacy or as samples until your regular prescription arrives.

Have you experienced mail delays while getting your medicine? Share your experience in the comments below.

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