Saturday, July 3, 2021

Rx at Amazon Pharmacy vs Kaiser Permanente



I tried out Amazon Pharmacy for the first time.

TLDR; The prices were exactly the same as my healthcare provider.

Details

I ordered a prescription for a keto rash cream from my HMO (Kaiser Permanente) and received a little sticker shock when a 60g tube weighed in at nearly $60. In the past, this toothpaste-sized tube would cost me less than half that. So, I cancelled the prescription after seeing much cheaper options on the Amazon Pharmacy website.

I signed up for an Amazon Pharmacy account which also gave me the option to use a PIN for additional security – nice touch. I found the item I wanted (Fluocinonide), put it in my cart, and went to check out. Amazon Pharmacy asked me for the contact info for my dermatologist, which I provided, and they told me it would take a few business days to process my order.

When I hadn't heard anything a week later, I called Amazon Pharmacy's customer service phone number. It sounded like I was speaking to an American woman working from home due to occasional dog barking in the distant background. She dug into my account and said that Amazon Pharmacy attempted to contact my dermatologist several times via fax and phone with no luck. The phone hold times were too long, she told me.

I e-mailed my dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente with the Amazon Pharmacy phone number. A few hours later I received an e-mail response from Kaiser Permanente. They told me they called Amazon Pharmacy, spoke to Robin, and that my prescription was being processed.

The next day, I received an e-mail from Amazon Pharmacy with a price quote that exactly matched the price Kaiser Permanente quoted to me. I called Amazon Pharmacy to ask if I could order a smaller tube, but they said I'd have to contact my doctor to change the prescription. At this point, I realized that my copay with Amazon wouldn't be better than my copay with Kaiser Permanente and gave up on the idea of using Amazon Pharmacy. Instead, I e-mailed my dermatologist and asked for a prescription to be filled for half the amount, which was not a problem. The item shipped, with a USPS tracking number, at no additional charge from Kaiser Permanente.

While is was my first, and only, experience with Amazon Pharmacy I don't see how it would be a benefit compared to Kaiser Permanente which already provides free shipping along with a fully integrated system. Perhaps I'll try again, in the future. Don't fire Carolina!

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