Mail Order Medical Supplies: Buyer Beware
Last week, one of our elderly patients came into the pharmacy complaining about the constant harassment she was receiving from Liberty Medical over her diabetic test strips. According to this patient, Liberty would call her several times a week when they deemed it was time for her to reorder her strips. Basically, they refused to leave her alone until she ordered them again.even if she didn't need them. And sometimes, she said, they'd just send her strips and lancets without contacting her at all.
Due to massive marketing campaigns, many Medicare recipients have the misconception that there is a significant advantage (like lower prices) to purchasing certain home medical supplies-such as diabetic testing supplies or nebulized medications-from large mail order companies. In reality, patients can receive these same products at the exact same price from your local, friendly, independent pharmacy. In fact, there is actually no real advantage to selecting these mail order providers, and utilizing these giant companies can often be inconvenient and/or even potentially harmful to the beneficiary. Here are just a few of the advantages of staying local for home medical equipment:
- The Same Price: Medicare patients will pay the same price (which is often nothing if they have a Medigap (also known as a supplemental) plan regardless of who provides their home medical equipment. Unlike many mail order pharmacies, every company that bills Medicare for medical equipment is paid at the same rate and must charge their patients the same price.
- No Waiting: Mail order companies often take several days to several weeks to ship supplies to their patients. When using a local supplier, this problem is eliminated.
- No Damage from Shipping: We routinely encounter patients who show us medical supplies that have been extensively damaged during shipping. While these companies usually offer replacements, this often means additional waiting periods.
- No Temperature Extremes from Shipping: Many medical supplies are also temperature sensitive. For example, most diabetic test strips must be stored under 86 degrees. However, these mail order companies do not usually provide any means of avoiding extreme temperatures during shipping (even during the heat of the summer), which could lead to inaccurate readings.
- No Wasted Supplies: Many mail order companies have been known to ship products to patients on a fixed schedule.whether they need them or not. In fact, many patients who use these companies end up accumulating huge stockpiles of diabetic testing supplies. With local medical equipment providers, you receive the required supplies only when you need them.
Please consider supporting your local pharmacy if there is ever a need for medical supplies such as diabetic testing strips. I am confident that you will find your needs will be met without all of the extra hassle that comes from dealing with a mail order company.