How to get medication refills before traveling?
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com . Last updated on March 26, 2023.
Melody L. Berg
Your trip is one week away, and you're preparing to pack your bags when you realize you don't have enough medication to last through the two weeks you'll be away. How can you refill your medication before your trip?
How to obtain refills for medication before traveling:
The most common way to refill your medication for traveling is to use a vacation override. Vacation overrides are done by asking your pharmacy to contact your insurance company. Then the insurance company can provide an override that will allow your medication to be filled earlier than anticipated.
However, vacation overrides depend on your insurance plan (so it can vary from plan to plan). Most plans will cover a vacation refill at least one time per prescription. If your plan does not, the other option is to pay out of pocket for your prescription. I recommend only paying for as much as you need to get you through your trip and ask your pharmacy about discounts through the pharmacy or sites like GoodRx.
One way to limit the chance of needing a vacation refill is to receive your medications in a 3-month supply. Many insurances offer 3-month supplies for maintenance medications. It can lower the number of times you visit the pharmacy and make sure you have your medication when needed.
What if I forgot my medication at home and need to refill it while on vacation?
This should be a straightforward process if you're traveling within the U.S. You can go to the nearest pharmacy and ask the pharmacy to transfer your prescription to have it filled there. You may encounter a similar issue to refilling your medication early; therefore, the pharmacy may need to contact your insurance for a vacation override.
If you travel often and this happens to you, my recommendation is to use large retail pharmacies because the process of transferring a prescription is generally much easier (e.g., Walgreens in California to Walgreens in New York). Larger retail pharmacies are also available in more places and have extended hours compared to an independent pharmacy.
Tips before going to the pharmacy to get vacation refills :
- Count how many tablets you have currently and make sure you will need a refill while away on vacation. Some insurance can limit the number of times you can use a vacation override; if you don't need one, it may be better to save your vacation override for another time.
- Call your insurance company to know your plan's policy on vacation refills. Every insurance plan is different, so the more you know, the better prepared you can be for your options.
- Give your pharmacy at least a one-week notice. If you have many medications sometimes it may take time to get everything ready for pickup. Some medications could be out-of-stock and may take a day or two to receive at the pharmacy.
- When going to the pharmacy, be prepared to give information such as the dates you are going on vacation, and where you are going . Some insurances may ask for these details to do an override.
AHFS® Patient Medication Information is used with permission. ©2024, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. (ASHP). The ASHP Data is a part of the AHFS Drug Information®️; ASHP is not responsible for the accuracy of transpositions from the original context.
- Health & Safety
- Travel Health
Traveling with Medications
If you are currently taking a prescription medication, you will want to plan ahead to take enough of your medication to last the duration of your travel. Medication cannot be shipped to you overseas and overseas pharmacies cannot refill U.S.-based prescriptions. Review the following guidance and be sure to begin this process at least three weeks before your departure in case you encounter delays.
- Obtain sufficient quantities of your prescriptions medications
Prescriptions medications unavailable or illegal abroad
- New or experimental treatment/therapies
- Over-the-counter medication restrictions
Flying with your medications
Obtain sufficient quantities of your prescription medications.
- First, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Tell them how long you will study abroad and ask for a prescription for your entire time abroad . You may need a copy of your acceptance letter or flight itinerary to prove the duration of your program. To make things easier at customs and border crossings, also ask for a copy of the prescription and a healthcare provider’s statement documenting your condition(s), medication(s) and dosage(s).
- Before you leave, ask about managing new or different side effects due to the new environment, sleep patterns, time zones, activities and diet. Also, discuss managing dosage as related to time-released medications.
- Second, contact customer service at your domestic insurance provider . Ask for a “vacation override” or a “prescription override” which allows you to get an extra supply before you go. The “override” allows you to get your prescription earlier without a penalty. However, not all insurance plans allow for an “override”
- You may also need to call your pharmacy to make sure they have sufficient quantities of your medication or show documentation from your physician to expedite the refill. If there’s a problem at the pharmacy, ask them to contact your insurance company directly.
- Finally, if you are unable to obtain your medication before you travel and need to renew a prescription abroad , contact GeoBlue prior to departure to ensure that the medication is available locally. Travelers will also need to schedule an appointment with a local physician abroad to receive a new prescription.
Learn more about Northwestern’s GeoBlue plan .
Keep in mind that certain prescribed medications to control psychosis, attention-deficit disorder or chronic/severe pain may not be available or even considered illegal in some foreign countries. Customs agents will confiscate medications that are illegal, if discovered. Contact GeoBlue to determine whether or not such medications are available in the destination country, if not, travelers will be strongly encouraged to work with their treating physicians to seek alternatives treatment. Talk with a physician far enough in advance of travel to arrange appropriate dosage as well as manage potential side effects.
It is illegal to send prescription drugs through domestic and international mail within and from the United States. Only approved pharmaceuticals and license-holding distributors and receivers may ship and receive approved drugs. Similar restrictions apply even for over-the-counter medication, and comparable laws exist in most other countries. (21 U.S.C. 801, 21 CFR 1300 and 18 U.S.C. 1716. Suggested reading: " How to Make Sure You Travel with Medication Legally "
New or experimental treatments/therapies
Many common conditions in the U.S. are being treated with the latest advances in science, and sometimes these are not available abroad. Travelers with chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease, hemophilia or diabetes, who are on a newer treatment program, please contact GeoBlue to discuss care options abroad.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) medication restrictions
While it is advisable to take a variety of over-the-counter medications with you abroad for symptoms such as pain (Tylenol, Advil, etc.) or stomach distress (Pepto-Bismol, Tums, etc.), some U.S.-based cold medications contain restricted ingredients. For example, Japan has restrictions the import of certain OTC medications, such as Nyquil and Sudafed.
Keep any medications in their original containers. Pack all toiletries to be carried-on in a small, zip-lock plastic bag. Liquids cannot exceed 3.4 ounces. Read the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for carrying on toiletries and other liquids.
Place all prescriptions in their original packaging and remember to pack them in your carry-on luggage, with copies of the prescription. Consider carrying a doctor’s note explaining a need for the prescription drugs you have packed - in English and, if possible, in the language of your destination(s).
For more information, read the U.S. Department of State report on Traveling with Medications .
If you’re studying at an NYU global site, plan ahead to make sure your prescription medication (including birth control) is available to you while you’re traveling. Here are a few things you need to know before you leave and while you’re traveling.
Get Extra Prescription Refills in Advance
Contact your insurance provider 1-2 weeks before your departure to request a travel override on your prescriptions, including birth control. A travel override will allow your pharmacist to provide existing refills in advance, which may be enough to cover your prescription needs during your travels. When speaking to the insurance provider, provide them with your travel dates, and an authorization may be granted (pending insurance coverage verification) that will allow you to obtain additional medication in advance.
- Students with the NYU-sponsored student health insurance plan should contact Wellfleet at (877) 373-1170 to request a travel abroad override one week prior to your travel date.
- Students who have alternate insurance should contact their insurance directly to inquire about the steps to have additional medication dispensed to you.
Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled.
Have a Backup Plan
NYU cannot guarantee that medications you carry with you will be permitted into any country. Your medication may be held in customs and/or confiscated. Additionally, prescriptions (including birth control) written in the United States are not honored abroad.
To confirm availability of medications and make contact with a NYU representative who can help schedule appointments with a local prescriber to obtain refills for medications in the country of study:
Log in to the SHC Portal
Go to Messages
Select Global Site Medication Assistance
Please note that students will be required to pay for medications upfront and submit a reimbursement request to their insurance provider.
Keep in mind, although the active ingredient(s) and the amount of each drug in each prescription medication have been verified, prescription medications and their foreign-country equivalents may differ from one another in the inactive components used in the manufacturing process. This may lead to differences in the type of prescription medications that are available (e.g., tablet vs capsule), or in the size, shape, color, or surface marking of the medication. Similarly, liquids may be flavored differently.
Get a Letter from Your Healthcare Provider
If you have a pre-existing medical need, you should carry a letter from your physician describing the medical condition and any prescription medications (including the generic names of prescribed drugs) while you’re traveling. We recommend you contact your healthcare provider 1-2 weeks before your departure to request a letter.
Don’t Ship Medications
Please do not ship any medications; they will be held in customs and/or confiscated.
Learn more about the health and wellness options at any particular NYU site at nyu.edu/health/global .
- CDC Travel Health
- U.S. Department of State - Students Abroad
- World Health Organization
- GeoBlue Reimbursement Request Form
Fam Pract Manag. 2022;29(6):30
HELP PATIENTS GET A LONGER SUPPLY OF MEDS PRE-TRAVEL
Insurers often set strict limits on how much prescription medication patients can receive from a pharmacy at one time (e.g., no more than a 30-day supply), especially for controlled substances. For many patients, this is not a problem. But others, such as “snowbirds” spending the winter months in warmer countries or college students spending a semester abroad, may need a longer supply.
To address these situations, first encourage patients to contact their insurance company and request a vacation override/travel supply for their prescription medications. Some insurers will authorize additional quantities if patients provide documentation of long-term travel. They may require patients to have enough prescription refills on file to cover the entire travel period, and they may still require prior authorization, step therapy, or other prerequisites.
If an insurer won’t allow enough supply to cover the travel period, advise the patient to check the rules in the destination country to determine whether the medication is available there without a prescription. For example, contraceptives are available without a prescription at a low cost in many other countries (particularly in Eastern Europe).
For patients traveling to another state rather than another country, packing enough medication to the last the entire trip is usually not necessary. For most medications, they can contact their pharmacy for help transferring prescriptions, or use the same pharmacy chain, which will not require a transfer. (Patients who use a mail-order pharmacy can just change their shipping address.) There are restrictions on pharmacies transferring controlled substances, particularly Schedule II drugs, so doctors may have to send a new prescription in those cases. (For more on prescribing controlled substances across state lines, see the July/August 2022 issue of FPM .)
DE-ADOPT THE REVIEW OF SYSTEMS
On Jan. 1, 2021, the documentation guidelines for outpatient office-based E/M visits were simplified, allowing visit levels to be based on either medical decision-making or total clinician time spent. The review of systems (ROS) is no longer required. However, eliminating the ROS has been slow in some practices because their EHRs still contain ROS templates and patients are still given lengthy ROS questionnaires.
Practices should formally de-adopt the ROS and then carefully consider what other “tradition- and reimbursement-driven care” they can also de-adopt. They can use the time saved to offer and document more evidence-based care, using USPSTF recommendations as a guide.
Barry MJ, Tseng C. Moving to more evidence-based primary care encounters: a farewell to the review of systems. JAMA . 2022;328(15):1495-1496.
HAVE PATIENTS COMPLETE SCREENINGS BEFORE VISITS
Screenings such as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) provide useful data to help primary care physicians identify and manage common behavioral health conditions like depression and anxiety. But physicians often do not have time to administer screenings during the visit.
Digital “smart” intake forms allow patients to fill out the screenings in the patient portal prior to being seen. They can also be linked with the chart so they are automatically uploaded into the note.
Patients with internet access could do the screenings at home. Others could use a laptop or tablet in your practice’s waiting room to fill them out. Then the physician will be able to refer to the results during the visit.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
Practice Pearls presents readers' advice on practice operations and patient care, along with tips drawn from the literature. Submit a pearl (250 words or less) to FPM at [email protected] .
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Get Pharmacy Advice
Holistic health advice from real pharmacists, how to get medications if going on vacation.
How do I get my medication if I’ll be going out of town and will be away from my favorite pharmacy?
This is a very popular question at the pharmacy…it’s prime travel time right now! Have no fear, there’s an option or two for you depending on specific travel plans.
First, you may want to determine if your insurance will pay for your medication before you hit the road (or air). This will save you a lot of worry about how you’re going to get your next refill. Most insurances will pay for your prescription a good 5 to 7 days before it’s due! You can find this information by calling your insurance company or having the pharmacy process a refill for the medication in question.
If you’ll be taking off before your insurance will pay for your medication, give your insurance carrier a call to see if they’ll allow for a vacation override. If you’re traveling within the country, you may find that an override will not be issued because you can easily get the prescription transferred to a pharmacy in the area of your destination.
If you get your prescriptions at one of the various major retail pharmacy chains, you’ve got it made. This is because these companies have pharmacies all over the country and every pharmacy within a particular company (i.e. Rite Aid Pharmacy) is connected by internet…a pharmacy on one side of the country can pull your prescription from the pharmacy you use at home and fill it, so long as they are part of the same chain!
However, if you end up having to go to a pharmacy of a different company, have the pharmacist call your local pharmacy to transfer your prescription to the temporary location. It’s an easy process and you can always have your local pharmacy call the temporary drugstore to get the prescription back once you return from your get-away.
There are certain laws that vary from state to state, especially with control substances so be patient with the pharmacy staff while they figure out how they can help you if a problem should arise!
Warning: based on many state laws, you may only be able to transfer your prescription for a control substance one time…meaning you won’t be able to transfer it back when you get home. In this case, you would need to be prepared to get a new prescription from your physician!
Now, if you’re traveling abroad, your insurance will most likely issue you a vacation overide so you won’t run out of your medications while in another country. The approval of an override may vary depending on the nature of the medication. Some insurance companies require the pharmacy to call them for the override, so be sure to pass the word on to the pharmacy staff, if this is the case! You may get a little resistance from the pharmacy staff (the unfortunate truth -some people work harder than others and some pharmacies are more hectic), but they’ll get over it! 🙂
If you’re calling the insurance company on your own, be prepared with the details of your travel plans (i.e. duration, destination, etc.) as the insurance company may need to document this before they’ll consider any vacation override requests. If the pharmacy is making the call for you, leave your travel information with the staff so they can pass the info on to the insurance representative.
Here’s a special request I have of you: allow ample time for the pharmacy staff to call the insurance to get the override. Being patient and coming back later in the day to pick up your medication will make for happy pharmacy employees, and you can bet there’ll be a greater willingness to help from the pharmacy people!
Oh yeah, and don’t wait until the last minute! 🙂
Got it? E-mail me at [email protected] . Don’t want to? Then definitely leave a comment below.
Wanna free-up some money for your trip? Check out our free video course on how to save money on your prescription medications. You can use the money saved for the fun stuff while you’re away!
Have a great trip!
I think you owe it ..to be more specific. HAWAII for example …to soak more money from tourists…. has a law that ONLY HAWAIIAN LOCATED DOCTORS CAN WRITE AND you can then fill the prescription you need. They say to hell with the DOCTOR that is caring for you at home.
Vacation overrides are common. In CT. you can get 2 per year/ I have never had a problem yet and I go out of the country twice a year. I use CVS and I have MEDICARE & ANTHEM BC/POS.
Recently I phoned and immediately got a vacation overide from Cigna Home Delivery. I did not need to provide an itinerary, and, it is my privacy issues to where an for how long I travel anyway !!!!! My overide was delivered within 4 days. A few days later my wife phoned to get a vacation overide from Cigna Home Delivery and got the run around. One office phones another office and then again and again and the itinerary is brought up. Why are these people on their little power trips able to affect the travel plans and medication insurances of senior citizens???? Cigna Home Delivery needs a top down cleaning of the dead wood.!!
THANK YOU for your help!!!! I am completely lost when it comes to asking for a vacation override!!! Your outline has helped me know how to start!!!!
I’ve been wondering what you would do about medication if you’re going abroad for a vacation. That’s nice that your insurance company an issue a vacation override. It’s nice to not have to worry about running out of your medication.
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- Long Trip & Presc...
Long Trip & Prescriptions
We're going on a two month cruise. Prescriptions will run out during the trip, but during the week before we leave, our insurance company doesn't want to allow us to get new refills (because it's too soon). So, here's what you should do if you are going to have the same issues: -- At least two weeks in advance of the date you'll depart from your home . . . -- Check your prescription(s) "on hand" supply. Determine which will run out during your trip. -- Bring your list of the prescriptions that'll "run out" to your pharmacy. -- You may need to get a letter from your PCP authorizing "early refills." The pharmacy might demand that letter/permission from your doctor. -- Be prepared to show the pharmacy proof of your travel plans. -- Explain to the pharmcist that you'll be gone so long that you need "early refills." -- Ask the pharmasist to call your insurance company and get them to "green door" early refills. -- Keep checking with your pharmacy to make sure they haven't dropped the ball . . . be a pest or you'll regret not checking and checking.
My trips are long enough that I have to fight this battle every year. I recommend that the traveler start with calling his/her insurance company to check on the current procedures. Mine will not start processing a vacation override more than X days before a trip. (I think X may be 10 but am not sure.) You need to know the rules so you don't lose time in the crunch. Also check to be sure each prescription has allowable refills. If it does not, your doctor's office will have to submit a new prescription. If that is necessary, check with whoever is going to fill the extra prescription to be sure the refill authorization has been received and is for the correct drug; you may not have time to recover from an administrative error if you don't discover the problem quickly.
If you usually get your prescription meds via mail order, you may find that in this sort of situation you'll have to get them from a retail pharmacy (probably at higher cost).
Then take a lot of deep breaths and light candles. My approvals have always come through, but Aetna is tougher to work with than Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and I don't appreciate the extra stress in the week before departure.
Edited to add: Based on my experience, you can expect difficulties if one of your drugs is a weekly pill packaged four per box. You'd be surprised at how hard a time people have understanding that four weeks does not equal one month (unless we're talking about February in a non-leap year).
We have done this for years for our independent land based travel all over the world. We either call the online pharmacy or a brick and mortar pharmacy like CVS or Walgreen’s, and ask for a “vacation lift.” We have never been refused this option.
We also have to fight the meds every time we take a trip. My wife has been on pain management for 15+ years, and she takes two medications that are controlled substances. She has to physically see the doctor or a nurse practitioner every month, and they're now electronically transmitting her meds directly to one pharmacy. There is no way around this procedure. So long trips overseas or long RV trips are out of the question for us. We've got to be in town every 7th of every month.
My pharmacy, and insurance, has always been very accommodating for travel needs and I can get refills the day I request so no waiting around for something that mightn't arrive nor anyone dropping the ball. No doctor notes required. Fortunately so far in my life none of my prescriptions needed for long trips have been narcotics or other types of drugs that might be abused so maybe that is what helps make it easy.
I find that now that I get 90 day fills of all of my prescriptions, I run into the vacation shortage less because the refill is allowed 2 weeks before the 90 days are up which allows me to build up a small reserve that caries me through.
Mark is right- 90 supplies are easier to 'stock up'. Also, my pharmacist told me that very soon (in less than a week most likely), insurance companies will be required to lift the 'too early' restrictions, so that people can stock up in case of having to self-isolate or due to community isolations like New Rochelle. He said he expects the 'order' to come down by the first of next week.
The replies you all sent were pertinent and informative, and I thank you. Your advice was well worthwhile. The reason I decided to post my initial blurb was hoping to alert others who might not have had the experience of seeking "early refills." So, just trying to get the word out there and help any innocent traveler by highlighting the problems that easily arise in this whole process. In a nutshell: think ahead, act ahead, keep back-checking and persevering! Although the vast majority in the healthcare industry are diligent when they tell you, "OK. We'll get this done," they're only human and sometimes good intentions fall through the cracks in their very busy days. Keep checking up on them and hold their feet to the fire.
I do understand that many people who travel are not lucky enough to have the insurance company or pharmacy I have and early refills is not always an easy task to complete. Especially if the prescriptions are for the more serious drugs.
The initial posting does have good advise.
What I would add is check with your doctor to see if they would be willing to move your prescriptions to 90 day fills. And check with your insurance to see if they will cover the full 90 days at a time. My insurance only covers the 90 day option at select pharmacies around me (Kroger and CVS) but not others (Walgreens, Walmart, Safeway, an all others). I am happy with Kroger for the most part so can get the 90 day refills without issue.
I switched to 90 day refills--my doctor wrote 90 day prescriptions--and never have problem. Check to see if your insurance company allows it. You might be surprised.
Thanks again to all who replied. Regards having 90-day supplies, my wife and I both have them. So, for us, the amount of prescription pills wasn't the issue. The issue was getting our pharmacy to fill many of our prescriptions early . So, again, start the process about a month to two weeks in advance of your trip. Give the system time to work its magic (doctor, pharmacy, insurance company). The caution is: If you wait until the last minute, you're going to be unnecessarily stressed. Thanks again to respondents.
Ah, even with the OK for 90-day refills, the issue comes in depending on what point you're at in that 90-day cycle when leaving on the trip, right? Roughly, if you filled the prescription on March 1, then the next refill would roughly be near end of May, If a two-month trip starts near the end of April, then there's a gap requiring an early refill...which the insurance company may not allow.
Advice on how to get around that is what you're helpfully offering up, right?
In the United States, the current average retail price of a three month supply of Xarelto 20 mg is around $1,600. In Italy, I paid $333. In USA, it requires a prescription. In Italy, its OTC. I went into a pharmacy in Florence to check on Xarelto. When I ordered a year's worth, they told me it would take until 2:00pm the next day to get Xarelto. I told them we were leaving for Venice at 9:00 am the next day. He said, no problem, 'what's your hotel in Vienna?' I told him. He played with the computer and said, "the closest pharmacy to that is hotel is [name and address]. Your Xarelto will be there at 2:00pm tomorrow, and so it was.
With Medicare Part D, 100gr Diclofenac is $87-150 with a prescription. In Germany, less that $10 OTC.
One thing I didn't think to ask the Italian pharmacy was if they took USA prescriptions, but he did say the Xarelto would have been free if I had a prescription. Your ship will most likely have an on board MD. Check out what it costs to get him to write prescriptions to get the drugs locally (if you have trip cancellation/medical insurance, it might cover the ship MD cost).
You can probably find a web site in where ever you are going that can give you guidance on how to get refills there, and it most likely will save you big bucks. Shopping where you are might work best.
Note on travel insurance: a good part of the cost goes to evacuation insurance-- if you get sick, the insurance will pay to return you to USA. I'd rather get sick in Europe because almost every country in Europe has better medical care than does the USA. I have a ex-pat friend who is now an MD in another OPEC country. I asked him, 'who has the better medical care, where you live or USA?' He said, 'I have a really rare eye problem that requires incredibly esoteric surgery, so I'm going to USA for it, but for 99% of why people go to the doctor, stay out of the USA.'
... you can refill 90 day Rx approximately 3 weeks ahead of time...over the course of a single year, you can ... stockpile...meds of nearly 2.5 to 3 months...over several years, you can build a huge stockpile...
Wally from Colorado is absolutely right! We've done it and it works --- plot it out on a calendar. Vacation overrides also work for us.
My online pharmacy is controlled by my insurance company, and I don't think I can keep advancing the refill date, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm certainly going to check it out!
The online pharmacies mostly allow you to refill before the full 90 days are up. So no advancing of the refill date required by you, it is done by the pharmacy.
You get your initial 90 day fill. 70 - 80 days later, they allow you to get your next 90 day fill so you don't run out in case of delivery issues (blizzards, hurricanes, other national disasters). And then again the refill date will be the 70 - 80 days out. After 3 rounds of refills, if you request the fill on the first available day, you can have as much a 2 months stockpile of drugs. After a year, you can have 6 months or more in your medicine chest.
There are two drawbacks to this process. First, if you change meds all of what you bought in advance is lost and depending on what and how much you take can add up to a sizable dollar loss. Second, if you have recently started new drug, you have not had the opportunity to stockpile and may still have to ask for an early refill for travel.
Sounds lovely, but I am on auto-refill and there is no place to request a different shipping date. For standard once-a-day pills, the date seems to default to 90 days from the last refill date.
I'm glad this has all come up, though, because I see dates online that don't match up with the fill dates on the pill bottles. Maybe something went wacko when Aetna switched mail-order contractors.
Forgot about auto refill. I never use that option because there are some of my drugs I take less than auto refill thinks I do (following doctor's orders to take "as needed") and would be drowning in the excess if they shipped automatically. Yes, that option does stick closer to the actual 90 day calendar. While auto refill might be convenient in that you don't have to remember to order, it does, for me anyway, reduce the flexibility I need in my refills.
Makes sense, Wally. I'm in a high-rise condo with a secure mailbox, so I don't worry about theft. But it's sure a hassle before every trip. And I now have two prescriptions with quirky dosage levels --e.g., take one 75 mcg pill 4 days a week and one 50 mcg pill 3 days a week. That's working out just about as well as I figured it would, which is not at all.
I just got a notice from my insurance that they are relaxing the 'refill time date' for 30 day supply prescriptions of 'maintenance' medications. That means you can refill sooner than the 4-7 days that is typical. Others are probably getting similar notices. Maybe you can start 'stockpiling' now in anticipation of future trips.
Thanks again to all who took the time to reply to my initial posting. In a nutshell, it's "Think ahead. Plan ahead." Don't wait until the last minute, only to discover that it isn't as simple as walking into your pharmacy and asking for "vacation lifts," (or, whatever your pharmacy calls "early refills"). But I guess with the coronavirus thing, we needn't worry about traveling for the next few months or so.
When I travel in Europe I usually go to a least pharmacy and ask about Amoxicillin and my prescription meds. I've bought Amoxicillin without a prescription and they had my meds available. (I have basic generic meds) On one RS tour, one member miscounted his heart meds, yikes. The guide took him to a pharmacy and all his meds were purchased without a prescription. Also, he told me it was cheaper than the states.
Update on my postings: Things changed. My new insurance is NOT very flexible or helpful. 90 day refills are only allowed every 90 days. You run out because of delivery delays? Tough. The online option also charges for shipping too. Drugs requiring refrigeration have a $75 additional shipping charge on top of the base shipping fee. And they don't combine prescriptions into a single box so I pay shipping on each individually. So I am moving all my prescriptions to the local Kroger. No shipping fees and many of the copays are lower as well. Insurance is almost too much trouble. I will attempt getting my meds from Canadian pharmacies once the border opens again. Can't be worse.
My husband and I are very fortunate in that our Medicare supplement covers prescription drugs. Express Scripts provides them by mail, which is cheaper than going to a pharmacy. We only use a pharmacy for medications that will be temporary.
We always get a 90 day supply of our regular meds. And we stockpile, although that doesn't work quite like others have described. A 30 day supply for most of what we take usually costs the same as a 90 day one.
He takes many more meds than I do, but they are cheap. As others have mentioned, one of my meds is one pill once a week. One is one pill daily. And one is 4 (horse) pills per day split into 2 doses. I have a spreadsheet to keep track.
I've been taking the big pills for 16 years. They are not yet available in a generic form. Getting the Medicare supplement is worth the monthly cost for its coverage of that med alone. If I had to pay retail, the cost for a 90 day supply would be about $1900. I pay $30.
I've often wondered what that medication would cost if I had to get it in Europe. We did have to get a medication in Italy for my husband one time. He insisted he had enough for the whole 5 week trip. He realized he didn't about 2 weeks in. We did have the bottle and the pharmacist was able to give him enough to finish the trip. The pills weren't very expensive, but they did cost more than we normally pay.
Lesson learned, count the bloomin' pills. Don't just look in the bottle and think there are enough. And pack more than actually needed in case you get stuck for some reason.
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Travel Medication Supply
Vacation override service provides medication for extended time.
Imagine having all your medication with you when you travel. No hassles of having to transfer prescriptions to an unknown pharmacy. Using the MSU Health Care Pharmacy Travel Medication Supply, the Spartan Pharmacists who know you and your physicians can provide a supply for travel.
Make your pre-travel arrangements even easier by using our free on-campus delivery and within a 30-mile radius
MSU Health Care Pharmacy is here to make sure you do not go without your medication. Our expert pharmacy technicians will work with you to determine the medications and amounts needed for your trip. Remember, our knowledgeable pharmacists are available to counsel you with any questions you have even when you are traveling .
Most insurance benefits will refer to this as a vacation supply on the policy. This can be as simple as an early refill request or as hefty as a full-year supply.
3 Simple Steps Get You On Your Way:
1. Download and fill out our “ Prescription Override Worksheet” or pick one up at at either pharmacy location.(downloadable PDF below)
2.Bring the “Prescription Override Worksheet” to the MSU Health Care Pharmacy or email it to [email protected]
3.Work with one of our pharmacy staff members to ensure all your medications are available for refill.
- Prescription Override Worksheet.pdf
Some Restrictions Apply
Keep in mind that there are always restrictions when it comes to insurance. Most insurances require the patient to call when requesting more than a covered refill amount.
For example: if your insurance allows a three-month supply and you need a six-month supply, you may have to make a phone call. Insurance can also restrict the number of times you can request a “vacation supply”.
MSU Health Care Pharmacy encourage patients to inquire with their insurance about any restrictions before applying for an override. It is helpful to have insurance on board before the pharmacy starts to fill the request.
Questions? Just Ask!
Visit our travel supply FAQ page or call the pharmacy at 517.353.3500 and speak to a pharmacy staff member.
Prescription Drug Benefits
On This Page
The Student Health Insurance Plan includes coverage for prescription medications, and there is no dollar limit on this benefit.
Prescriptions fall into three tiers that determine your co-payment:
- Tier 1: $17 / Mail Order Copayment: $51
- Tier 2: $40 / Mail Order Copayment: $120
- Tier 3: $55 / Mail Order Copayment: $165
- Other: $0 copayment for prescription contraceptive products that are generic or brand name without a generic equivalent. 50 percent coinsurance for Malarone, Mefloquine, Coartem, and Primaquine
- Individual out-of-pocket maximum: $1,300
- Family out-of-pocket maximum: $2,600
Once you meet the prescription out-of-pocket maximum, you will not be charged a copayment for your prescriptions for the remainder of the plan year.
- Over-the-counter drugs are not covered by the health plan.
- Mail Order: Members will be charged the mail order co-payment even if the days’ supply is less than 90 days.
Look-Up Your Prescription Copayment Estimate
- Visit Bluecrossma.com/medication and type in the name of the medication (select Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts formulary) or
- Create a MyBlue account at Bluecrossma.com/my-account and select “Review Benefits.”
Note: Information provided on the Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA (BCBSMA) website is based on the standard BCBSMA formulary and includes estimates. There may be discrepancies between the information on this website and the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) prescription coverage, as well as any related documents. It’s possible that the documents on the BCBSMA website may not apply to SHIP specifically, as they may be intended for other Blue Cross Blue Shield plans with different benefits. If you have any questions or concerns about estimating medication costs, please reach out for clarification.
Where to Fill Prescriptions
You can fill or refill up to a 60-day supply of most prescriptions at any participating pharmacy in the United States.
To find a participating pharmacy:
- Visit the MyBlue App and log into your account. If you do not already have an account, you will need to create one.
- Select the “ My Medication ” tab from the menu or at the bottom of your phone.
- Under “Pharmacy Programs”
- Click on the pop-up message stating, “You are now leaving the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts site.”
- You will be redirected to the Pharmacy Programs website.
- At the top right of the page, click Pharmacy locator.
You may also fill prescriptions through mail-order delivery.
If you purchase prescriptions without using your member ID, you may file for reimbursement through CVS Caremark. You will be reimbursed at the allowed amount minus the applicable copayment.
Prescription ID Card
Your Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) ID number is also used to fill prescriptions.
If you need to fill a prescription, you can obtain your BCBS ID information on the student insurance portal.
When filling prescriptions, you will need to provide the pharmacist with the following information:
- Plan Name: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA)
- Policy Number: Same as the medical BCBSMA ID number
- Bin: 004336
- Group: RX22MA
- With the MyBlue Member App, you can also find a doctor, review claims, and keep track of your prescriptions.
- Download the MyBlue Member App to access your digital medical/prescription member ID card.
- Learn more about the MyBlue Member App and review the MyBlue App FAQs .
Requesting an Early Refill Prior to Leaving the Country
If you are traveling abroad and will not be able to refill your medication while traveling, you may be eligible to request a travel override so that you can take the medication with you.
- Complete the Prescription Travel Override Worksheet and return it to Member Services with a copy of your travel itinerary (e-tickets or ticket confirmation page) at least 72 hours before you need to pick up your prescription. Your travel itinerary must include departure and return dates.
- Contact your ordering physician and request a script for the number of months you need if you do not have enough refills left. All travel override requests are processed based on your last refill date and your travel dates/documentation provided.
- Requests can only be processed within 10 business days of the departure date.
- Overrides are only processed for the amount of time you will be abroad, for up to a maximum of six months.
- Students are only allowed to fill the amount of medication that our office has authorized. You can be held liable for any costs filled beyond the amount we authorize.
- Travel overrides are only processed for members traveling outside of the United States.
Limitations and restrictions may apply to certain medications. Before you request an override, confirm with your pharmacist that the medication you need does not have any restrictions.
Purchasing a Prescription Abroad
If you need to fill a prescription while abroad, you will be reimbursed at 100 percent of the cost paid, minus the applicable prescription copayment.
To receive reimbursement, you need to submit itemized receipts and a Blue Cross Blue Shield Claim Form.
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