Friday, November 21, 2008

How To Save Big On Prescription Drugs

We are a pill-popping nation.  Americans are taking medicine for everything from heartburn to erectile dysfunction.  But a growing number of people are having trouble paying for medicine.  A recent Kaiser Family Foundation Poll found that 29 percent have not filled prescriptions in the last two years because of cost.

Here are some tips on how to be a smarter patient and stretch your health care dollars:

SHOP!
Few consumers realize that the retail price of a prescription can vary among local drugstores by 300-400 percent; shopping around can save plenty.  Mail-order pharmacies and online retailers offer even greater savings.  The value of drug purchases also varies with the quantity of medicine purchased.  Maximize your savings by finding out what quantity of pills gives you the best value and purchase your medicines from the retail or online pharmacy that gives you the best price.

Find out the retail price of a prescription before using a prescription drug insurance plan
Your prescription drug co-payment may be higher than the retail price!  Always find out what your drug costs retail before using any prescription coverage, then you can choose the most economical way of paying for it.

Insist on treatment with generic drugs
Generic drugs cost up to 90 percent less than their brand-name counterparts.  Insist your doctor prescribe medications that are generically available.  Obtain generic substitutions for expensive brand names whenever possible.

Insist on cheaper medicines within the same class, or a cheaper class of medicine for the same treatment goal
Because doctors don't often consider cost when prescribing medication, they tend to choose the latest, most expensive drugs.  There are usually cheaper medication choices.  Ask your doctor if a substitution for an expensive drug would be an appropriate way to bring prescription costs within your budget.

Buy a three month supply
Usually it's less expensive to get a 90-day supply instead of buying one month at a time.

Look into prescriptions by mail
Sometimes you have to plan ahead on this one, but it can end up saving you a lot of money.

Prescription drugs are becoming more and more expensive, but if you follow these tips and do your research you can end up saving a lot on your prescription bills - without sacrificing your health.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Top Six Qualities In An Online Pharmacy

If you type 'online pharmacy' into Google over four million results come up. Many of these results show international pharmacies that make bold claims like "Canada's largest pharmacy" or "save up to 90%". With so many online pharmacies to choose from it can be difficult to tell which ones are safe and can be trusted.

Below are the top six qualities to look for in an online pharmacy:

1. Purchase only from state-licensed pharmacies in the United States - To find out if an online pharmacy is a state-licensed pharmacy, is in good standing and is in the United States, check out www.nabp.info. The pharmacy should have a licensed pharmacist who can answer your questions and should require a valid prescription to obtain medications.

2. Adequate company information - The online pharmacy should give sufficient information about the company, the seller, what type of refunds they offer, and especially their contact information. If an online pharmacy does not give any 'contact info' stay as far away from it as possible. There is a reason why they don't want you to know who and where they are.

3. Online pharmacy requires a valid prescription - Only choose an online pharmacy that requires a valid prescription. If a pharmacy never asks you for a prescription or they say they will issue one themselves it means they are not legitimate. Everyone knows why you need a prescription from YOUR doctor - it's for your safety. Without a prescription an online pharmacy can send you the wrong dosage or even worse the wrong medication.  It can mean the difference between life or death.

4. Reasonable shipping times - A legitimate U.S. online pharmacy should be able to get your order to you within one week. If an online pharmacy offers shipping times greater than seven days be skeptical. This pretty much guarantees your order is coming from an unregulated international pharmacy, more than likely from India.

5. Transparent pricing - An online pharmacy's pricing should be easy to understand. Beware of pharmacies that use deceptive pricing tactics like offering prescription drugs at substantially less and then charging excessive amounts on shipping. If a pharmacy charges shipping by the 'pound', stay away as well.

6. Customer service - Look for an online pharmacy that offers a toll-free customer service number. Ideally the customer service should be in the United States.

There are safe, legitimate online pharmacies out there that can make getting prescription drugs much more convenient and make your life easier. Make sure to keep these top qualities in mind when comparing online pharmacies. It will make your shopping experience more enjoyable and much safer.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Who Else Is Responsible For High Healthcare Costs?

HealthWarehouse.com has always been about advocating change in the healthcare industry. Most Americans will agree that healthcare costs have been spiraling out of control and there are always the usual scapegoats: big pharma and big drug distributors.

We have found that the problem is as much an online problem as a traditional big pharma problem. Due to ignorance or fear, many large online companies who could help consumers save money refuse to do so and contribute to rising healthcare costs.

By sheer size, the biggest culprit is Google. Due it's large influence in search and on what people find on the Internet, Google's policies can effect prices in a big way. We were notified by Google in May we could no longer sell syringes using Google Checkout as it violated their policies. This is one of the reasons why Google Checkout is no longer an option when a syringe is added to our shopping cart.

As of today, August 25th, there are still more than 4,700 results for the word syringe using Google Checkout. When we asked Google why we must remove our listings when others are selling syringes, they simply responded that they are allowed to interpret their policies anyway they see fit. To be fair, they also said they would stop the others from selling, but it's been 3 months and we have seen no reduction in the number of merchants selling syringes on Google Product Search.

In the meantime, the biggest loser was you, the consumer. We sell arguably the lowest priced syringe in the USA however, due to either misinformed policies or simple ignorance, Google has prevented you from saving money. The biggest irony is that Google itself has launched Google Health in an effort to help reduce healthcare costs, meanwhile they have prevented legitimate companies from selling consumers legitimate products which could save them money.

To be fair, Google is not the only culprit. Recently we launched 100% FREE shipping on ALL orders regardless of size with no coupons. Again, a great way for consumers to save money.

I went ahead and posted the story on Digg.com in order to share the news with my friends. Almost within minutes, I was locked out of my Digg account. When I emailed Digg support to find out what the issue was, they responded:

"Your account was reported to us as being in violation of our Terms of Service (http://digg.com/tos) for submitting prohibited content (pharmacy/supplement ads) to Digg. Because we must be vigilant in protecting against activities that compromise the Digg community, this decision is final and irreversible."

Had Digg bothered to read the article, they would have seen this was a legitimate company press release. While we are a licensed pharmacy, the release says nothing about controlled substances, prescription products, or was even an offer to purchase them!

Legal or not, the mere mention of the word "pharmacy" brings up red flags and with good reason. Abuse is widespread and there are a large number of illegal pharmacies selling online. Companies such as Google and Digg have a right to protect consumers from illegal pharmacies, however, there must be a way for legitimate, 100% legal pharmacies to offer their products otherwise the trend of rising healthcare costs will continue unabated.

We are not asking Google, Digg, and others to begin allowing everyone in the world to advertise or post anything they please. However, there must be an avenue for honest, legal sellers to offer their goods to consumers. Until this happens, the true openness and efficiency of the Internet will never by realized in the healthcare industry and average consumers will continue to suffer under the crushing burden of ever rising healthcare costs.

Friday, June 27, 2008

How Do I Find The Lowest Price Online?

What's wrong with the picture above? (click on the image to enlarge) If you guessed the price marked "Low Item Price" is not really the lowest price, congratulations!

With consumers clicking the "Sort By Price" button, retailers employ lots of tricks to get their listings to come up first. Being a retailer ourselves, we also go online to compare our prices with others.

Here are some things we see all the time:

1. Lowest price on the product, but high shipping costs.
How many times have you said to yourself, "Yes! I found the lowest price I've ever seen for this product" only to be shocked when you click checkout and there is a $10 shipping fee tacked on. Reasonable if you bought a bicycle, but for a small box of test strips? What's worse is they tend to keep it vague and hit you right before they charge your credit card.

2. Low initial shipping cost, but charges by the pound.
We'll call this a nice way to trick you into paying more. $6.95 sounds like a reasonable price to pay for shipping, but how about when they start charging by the pound? How are you supposed to know how much the product weighs? Good sites like Amazon.com usually show you the weight somewhere, but you still have to do the calculation.

3. Confusing free shipping promotions.
Here's a real one: "Free shipping on your first non-prescription order over $25". Sure it's a great deal the first time you order, but why so complicated? Are they afraid they'll lose money if you keep buying from them after the first time?

In my opinion, shipping costs are a reflection of the company. The more confusing it is, the more dishonest it is. The ones that keep their product price low, but have high shipping costs are simply dishonest. Calculate by the pound, vague on purpose. And confusing promotions, why bother? Imagine the sinking feeling in your stomach when you need to return the product because it's defective. (I speak from experience of course :-)

Our philosophy at HealthWarehouse.com has always been simplicity. $5.95 flat shipping with free shipping over $50. So easy a caveman can do it (sorry to the Geico cavemen).

So to answer the question, "How do I find the lowest price online?", as Bill Clinton would say, "It's in the shipping stupid!", but you already knew that.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

New HealthWarehouse Coming Soon!

Our apologies for a quiet May. We may have been quiet, but that's not to say we weren't busy.

We're just putting the finishing touches on a brand new store, taking much of your feedback and comments over the past few months and incorporated them. Thanks as always for your feedback and keep it coming.

We've added a long list of new features, including:
  • New Easy To Use Checkout
  • New & Improved Search
  • Product Comparisons
  • Product Image Zoom
  • Product Tagging
  • Recently Viewed Products
  • Wishlists
We've also launched our presence on GetSatisfaction.com. GetSatisfaction allows you to post questions, report problems, share ideas, and join conversations regarding HealthWarehouse.

We're as committed as ever to providing excellent customer service and this is just one more way we plan to serve you better.

Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What's Considered Fast Delivery?

We monitor our comments religiously on Amazon.com and other sites. It's a great way for us to get feedback on how we are doing and make sure we resolve any problems that come to light.

Our focus has always been on providing great value in terms of price to our customers, but recently we found an interesting trend in our comments: "Fast Delivery". We decided to take a look at this and see what all the fuss was about.

As of April 22nd, we have received 38 comments on Amazon.com. 24 of these comments mention "fast delivery" or "quick shipping". Since this comment came up so often, we thought it would be interesting to see what our actual shipping times were from our Cincinnati, OH warehouse.

Here is what we found in the month of April:

All of the above orders are by UPS standard ground shipping. We charge $5.95 flat shipping nationwide. We ship Monday - Friday, 9am to 5pm EST.

We always do our best to get orders out as quickly as possible and hopefully the above times give you an idea of our shipping capabilities. Let us know what you think. We are always looking to improve.

Friday, March 21, 2008

HealthWarehouse.com Officially Relaunched

Hi Everyone,

We're happy to announce that HealthWarehouse.com has officially relaunched on our own software platform as of February 10th. We realize it's already the end of March, but wanted to be sure we had worked out all the kinks before making it official.

We know that HealthWarehouse.com is missing tons of features (like our own checkout), but we decided to release our software early going with reliable Google Checkout to start and gather feedback. Of course, we have our own checkout and PayPal in the works and should have this released in the next few weeks.

As part of our launch, we now have links to the manufacturer website and user manuals for many products in both English & Spanish. We will continue to add information which helps you make good buying decisions. Look for the "Additional Information" section in the narrow column on any product page to find these files in PDF format.

We have also decided to push the envelope and offer an industry leading 90-day return policy with no restocking fees. Most of our competitors offer 15 to 30 days and almost always charge for restocking. We feel this is unnecessary and want to make sure you are confident with your purchase every time you shop with us.

We hope you will enjoy our low prices (we hear are amongst the lowest around) and fast shipping. We strive to get every order to it's destination within 2 to 5 days (including West Coast) which our reviews tend to show we have been successful at doing so far.

We will continue to add new features weekly and build on the great base we have now established. Tell us how we can improve and features you would like to see at feedback@hwareh.com.