By: Daniel Trecroci
Several years ago, the dot-com phenomenon was making millionaires out of anybody with an idea for selling a product or service online.
Be it groceries, pet supplies or beauty products, consumers warmed to the idea of having their loaves of bread, skin creams and animal chew toys delivered to their doorstep with the click of a mouse key.
Well, we all know what happened to the lion’s share of “dot-coms,” and today many of us have returned to the grocery or pet store.
Citing convenience and less hassle, however, many people with diabetes are still opting to order their medications and supplies online or over the phone for delivery to their door.
Convenience and No Paperwork Hassles
What’s the benefit of ordering diabetes medications and supplies through the mail? And how does the experience differ from picking up supplies at retail or hospital pharmacies?
In addition to delivering medications and supplies right to your home, Liberty Medical Supply of Port St. Lucie, Florida, says that many mail-order companies complete and file all Medicare and insurance claims for their customers.
“That eliminates the paperwork many people find a confusing obstacle to obtaining the supplies and medications they need,” says John Reed, chief marketing officer for Liberty Medical.
Reed adds that Liberty’s mail-order customers receive a reminder service to ensure regular shipments of testing supplies or medications.
Marc Ingerman of LogiMedix says the best thing about mail order is convenience.
“Your order will arrive at your door within days, and, with our order reminder program, your future orders will arrive before you need them,” says Ingerman. “With a traditional pharmacy, it is up to you to remember to bring in a prescription for a refill.”
Ingerman adds that LogiMedix’s involvement goes beyond simply sending supplies to its customers. He says LogiMedix also assists its customers in identifying their lowest-cost options for health insurance.
More Specialized Than Retail Pharmacists
Joel Shpigel, RPh, and CEO of Focus Express Mail Pharmacy, Inc. in Horsham, Pennsylvania, says his staff is more specialized and “disease oriented and focused” than most retail or hospital pharmacies.
“Our staff is highly educated and experienced in treatment of the chronically ill, especially people with diabetes,” says Shpigel. “And we are well trained and experienced in dealing with insurance reimbursement. We take the burden from the patient to deal with billing, paying for medications ‘up front,’ and waiting for reimbursement.”
Douglas Kieffer, president of Marlin Medical Group of Kissimmee, Florida, says mail order is convenient for elderly people with diabetes who have trouble getting around, as well as working individuals who never have enough hours in the day.
“It’s also confidential,” says Kieffer. “Many patients don’t care to discuss any medical problem in a retail location.”
Many Readers Agree-Mail Order Is the Way to Go
Joel Goodman of Santa Ana, California, rates the diabetes mail-order business as “excellent.”
“The insulin arrives by next-day air, with ice packs that are still cold,” says Goodman. “Insurance lets me buy threemonth supplies with two months co-payment, they charge it directly to my credit card and they pay the postage.”
Laveda Fleming of Casa Grande, Arizona, also orders her supplies through the mail and receives them in a “timely manner.”
“And the supplier bills my insurance,” she says.
Walter Olson of Novato, California, says delivery of his supplies is almost always three days from the time of the order.
“Going to the pharmacy would be faster end-to-end but would take an hour of my time rather than five minutes for an online order.”
Susan Johnson of Saratoga, California, is the mother of a child with type 1 diabetes. She says she orders three-month supplies of Lantus, NovoLog cartridges and two kinds of test strips through the mail, and everything arrives within a few days of ordering.
“And the insulin is packed on ice,” says Johnson. “They leave them at the front door. They bill our insurance directly, which saves a ton of work and is very convenient.”
And Others Disagree
Cecelia Hender of Abington, Massachusetts, orders her diabetes medications and supplies via mail order because her insurance provider requires her to do so for the best coverage. She has not been pleased with the experience.
“They send insulin with freezer packs, but they sit in a truck for days before being delivered or are left out in the hot sun in the summer and subzero temps,” says Hender. “There have been times when I have requested capsules and been sent tablets.”
Hender admits, however, that mail order is still cheaper than buying from the pharmacy.
Beverly Hoffstrom of Belmont, California, says that in January of this year she encountered a problem with her mail-order company, which, as of press time, is still unresolved.
“I placed an order for a three-month supply of test strips,” says Hoffstrom. “Unlike my previous orders, there was no tracking number. It was sent by U.S. mail instead of FedEx. After a week, I called to report that it still had not arrived. This time I was told a ‘case study’ would be made and I would hear back in 24 hours. I still have no test strips.”
Not Just For Diabetes
Several mail-order companies deal not only with diabetes supplies, but with supplies for other medical conditions as well.