Seniors oppose mandatory mail order, survey finds

September 6, 2013

A majority of Medicare beneficiaries said they would oppose mandatory mail order if it would lead to closure of their local community pharmacy, according to a new study.

A majority of Medicare beneficiaries said they would oppose mandatory mail order if it would lead to closure of their local community pharmacy, a new study reported.

Published in the September, 2013, issue of the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, study author Michael T. Rupp, PhD, BPharm, found that 83.7% of the 669 Medicare-eligible individuals 65 and older surveyed were opposed to mandated mail order if the pharmacy they use would close as a result.

“Seniors are relatively risk adverse when it comes to the loss of their local community pharmacies, indicating that, on average, they would oppose a mandatory mail-order provision if there were greater than about a 4-in-10 chance that it would lead to the closure of their local pharmacies,” wrote Rupp, who is professor of pharmacy administration at Midwestern University’s College of Pharmacy in Glendale, Ariz.

In the event they were required to use a mail-order pharmacy, 62.9% of seniors said they would be concerned about losing their freedom to use the pharmacy of their choice. Approximately 55% agreed they would be concerned about not having a pharmacist who knows them and the medications they take if they were required to use mail order.

However, 34.1% of the seniors receive the majority of their medications via mail order, while 47.7% get their medications from chain pharmacies, and 13.1% receive them from independent pharmacies. In addition, 51.6% of those surveyed said they believe that using a mail-order pharmacy is less expensive than using a local pharmacy.

To the benefit of community pharmacies, more than half (51.1%) of seniors said they would be concerned about whether they fully understood their medications if they used a mail-order pharmacy and 41.2% said they would be concerned about not being able to speak face-to-face with a pharmacist.

In addition, nearly 60% of respondents agreed they would be concerned about getting their medications when they needed them right away if they used a mail-order pharmacy. Around 40% of seniors are concerned that their medications might be lost or stolen if they use a mail-order pharmacy.

Seniors in rural areas are especially concerned about mail-order pharmacy deliveries. “This study found that seniors living in rural areas have significantly greater concerns than their counterparts in non-rural areas about lost or stolen medications, receiving the exact medication the physician prescribed, and the effects of exposure to heat, cold, or moisture,” Rupp wrote.