Question: Does my health insurance cover prescriptions filled by an on-line pharmacy?
Answer :
On-line pharmacies always offer privacy and sometimes save you money. They're open all night and spare you from driving through the snow to pick up your order. For these reasons, increasing numbers of Americans are using on-line pharmacies to fill prescriptions. But there's a hurdle to clear: Many on-line pharmacies aren't affiliated with the country's major health insurance providers, so your health plan won't pay for medication you buy on-line.

The problem, in many cases, is companies known as pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs). These companies coordinate the transactions between drug manufacturers, pharmacies, and health insurance providers. But that's not all they do; PBMs sell prescription drugs through the mail, and that makes them direct competitors of on-line pharmacies. Unwilling to give up any market advantage, PBMs have been reluctant to act as go-betweens for health insurance companies and on-line pharmacies.

So what's an on-line pharmacy to do? Some have gotten around this problem by stepping out of virtual reality to form affiliations with "brick-and-mortar" drugstores. These affiliations give the on-line pharmacies access to the insurance networks used by their real-world counterparts. So, if the drugstore on the concrete corner will accept your insurance company's payment, then its on-line counterpart down the cyberblock probably will as well.

If you're still having trouble locating an on-line pharmacy that will accept your health plan, here's an alternative, but check with your insurance provider first to make sure this will work. Once you've paid the on-line pharmacy to have your prescription filled, submit a claim to your insurance provider for reimbursement. Most insurance companies will allow this--you'll just need to complete a standard form and send it in along with the receipt for the transaction.