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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

March 13, 2009

Medco could help you save some green

by Paula Van Brocklin

Looking for ways to stretch your household budget? Consider using Medco's online mail-order prescription service, available to faculty, professional and scientific staff and supervisory merit employees on the ISU Plan.

Benefits of mail order

If your hectic schedule makes it difficult to make regular trips to the pharmacy, you may be a good candidate for Medco's mail-order service. Some of the benefits include:

  • Online ordering
  • Generic prescriptions at no cost to you
  • Free standard shipping to your door
  • 90-day prescriptions
  • E-mail notification when your prescription is due
  • Screening for potential interactions and allergy sensitivity, based on your personal medication profile
  • Online order status updates
  • Prescription renewals handled by Medco directly with your physician

"Some people like the face-to-face contact with their pharmacy," said Jane Walter, human resource specialist. "That's a choice our employees have."

Mail-order requirements

Medco's online prescription service is designed for maintenance medications you use regularly, for example cholesterol-reducing drugs. For one-time prescriptions, such as an antibiotic for your child's ear infection, you'll still need to visit your local pharmacy and fill that prescription with your Medco prescription benefit card.

If you choose to get your maintenance prescriptions through Medco's mail-order service, there are some requirements:

  • Prescriptions must be for 90 days (90-day prescriptions save you four co-payments per year)
  • Orders only can be shipped to street addresses
  • Non-generic orders must be pre-paid before they are shipped. Orders paid with a credit or debit card will be shipped immediately. Orders paid by check could delay shipments. Why? Medco passes along all cost changes -- up and down. If you send Medco a check for your prescription, there's a chance the cost may change by the time your check reaches Medco. If that happens, the order will not be shipped until you pay the difference (if the price increases). If the price goes down, you'll be credited the difference.

You'll have to do a little legwork to get started using Medco's online prescription service, but you may find the savings and convenience outweigh the initial set-up.

First, you'll need to provide Medco with 90-day prescriptions for your maintenance medications. This can be done online at, after you register with an e-mail address and password. Once you are logged on to the secured web site, click on the graphic that says "Get your prescriptions by mail -- Start now." From there, follow the instructions.

You also may fax or mail your prescriptions to Medco. To fax, provide your physician with a fax form, available at He or she must complete the form and send it to Medco. To mail your prescription, go to the Medco web site and print the online mail order form.

Other advantages

Aside from the online prescription service, the Medco web site offers health information. For example, click on the "Health and wellness" tab and learn about the latest generic medications, read articles on a variety of health topics, and get answers to your physical symptoms in the health encyclopedia. You also can review prescription purchases -- both online and from retail pharmacies -- for you and members of your family under age 18 (dependents age 18 and older must give permission for you to see their information).

You also can order a variety of over-the-counter items from the Medco site. These appear under the "Nonprescription items" tab. Once you're logged in, you can browse and purchase everything from bandages, to shampoo, to multivitamins. It's like shopping at your local drug store, but from your desktop.

The disadvantage? You have to pay shipping charges and wait a few days to receive your items. The advantage? You don't have to fight for a parking spot, and your purchases arrive at your door.

"Medco offers a lot of other valuable information," said Jerilyn Rasmussen, benefits specialist. "Even if employees don't do mail orders, they should go to the web site and take a look."


"Some people like the face-to-face contact with their pharmacy. That's a choice our employees have."

Jane Walter