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Tips for a Better Trip to the Pharmacy

Become a pharmacy patient pro by following these simple guidelines at the pharmacy.

Pharmacy, woman and pharmacist 
Some of us may encounter moments of frustration at the pharmacy. But filling medications shouldn’t be a headache for you or the pharmacy staff.

Here are seven Dos and seven Don’ts that may make your next trip to the pharmacy a little easier.

Related: 25 Important Medical Terms You Need to Know

DO ask the nurse or medical assistant to double check your prescription. If your doctor gives you a written prescription at his or her office, have it checked before you leave to make sure it includes all required information such as your name, the drug name, and the doctor’s signature. Note: For certain drugs like narcotic pain medications and stimulants, the pharmacy can’t fill your prescription without the original paper prescription signed by the doctor.

DON’T lose your cool with the pharmacy staff. Prescription errors happen, but they can often can be resolved easily.   

DO always have your current prescription plan ID Card with you, and remember that it may be different from your medical plan ID Card.

DON’T assume that because you haven’t heard anything about a benefit change, your insurance coverage is the same as your last refill. It’s always a good idea to check your benefit status from time to time (either online—like with SelectHealth My Health—or with your employer’s HR department).   

DO always bring your government-issued picture ID with you. Certain medications cannot be dispensed without verifying your identity—even some that don’t require a prescription such as products containing pseudoephedrine.

DON’T assume that because you're a frequent visitor, the pharmacy staff knows your name. Even if the pharmacy staff remembers you, they may still need to see a picture ID to comply with the law for dispensing certain medications.   

DO budget at least 20 to 30 minutes for your time at the pharmacy, or plan to pick up your prescription later. If you can, call ahead to request your refill. This will help expedite the process when you pick up your refill later.

DON’T assume—even for a refilled prescription—that the pharmacy staff only has to count your pills and put them in a bottle. They follow several important steps to ensure that your prescription is billed to your insurance and filled accurately.   

DO recognize that the pharmacy has no specific knowledge about or control over your pharmacy benefits such as coverage, copays, and deductibles. They are also not connected to a separate billing office that can research and submit claims at a later date like your doctor’s office. Usually, the pharmacy’s interaction with your insurance company occurs at the moment they process your prescription. You should call your insurance company with any coverage concerns you have.

DON’T assume your pharmacy can modify your copay or other coverage benefit details. Sometimes the pharmacy staff can help you by calling your insurance company, but understand that this may increase wait times for other customers. 

Related: Use These Safety Tips When Giving Your Baby Medicine

DO ask the pharmacist any questions you have about your prescriptions, new or refilled. He or she is an important member of your personal healthcare team. That’s why, whenever possible, it’s a good idea to use the same pharmacy for all of your prescriptions so your pharmacist is aware of all medications you use and can watch for any potential adverse interactions.

DON’T hesitate to call your pharmacist for answers and advice if you have questions after you leave the pharmacy. 

DO take your medication as prescribed, and call your doctor if you need to change a medication because of side effects or because a medication isn’t working. And if your doctor changes your medication in any way (dosing or strength), DO make sure they give you a new prescription with the updated strength and dosing instructions. This ensures proper insurance billing.

DON’T ever stop taking a prescribed medication without first talking to your doctor. Many medications require a “weaning” dose regiment to avoid adverse side effects.

Do you have questions about your own prescription benefits? Call SelectHealth Member Services at 800-538-5038, and we’ll help make your trip to the pharmacy even better.


SelectHealth may link to other websites for your convenience. SelectHealth does not expressly or implicitly recommend or endorse the views, opinions, specific services, or products referenced at other websites linked to the SelectHealth site, unless explicitly stated.

The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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Post Author

Kevin Bone