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Consumer How To Choose Guide 2015

Dalton Daily CItizen, Dalton Magazine

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42 The Daily Citizen ◆ HOW TO CHOOSE GUIDE 2015 Pharmacies have changed a lot over the years. In the past, pharmacies were usual- ly small neighborhood stores where the employees knew your name. The selection might not have been the best, but the cus- tomer service they provided was always excellent. These days, pharmacies have grown. In many cases, they have turned into large, corporate stores. With their expansion in size has also come an expansion in the type of products they carry. No longer selling only medicine or medical related supplies, these pharmacies have turned into small retailers. Along with pharmaceutical goods, many of these stores also carry a variety of groceries, in the hope of creating for its customers a one-stop place to shop. Unfortunately, not every pharmacy has kept its focus on its customers. As phar- macies have changed, it has become more important than ever to sift out the good pharmacies from the bad. When deciding on which pharmacy you want servicing your prescription needs, there are several important factors to consider. AVAILABILITY One of the factors to consider is the pharmacy's hours of operation. Stores that are only open during regular business hours will not be very helpful if you or your loved one gets sick after hours. Try finding a pharmacy with business hours that are convenient for you. If you look hard enough, you are sure to find a pharmacy in your city that is open 24 hours. Unfortunately, it is the larger corporate chain stores that are likely to be the ones open late. Smaller, locally owned pharma- cies may have more limited hours, but tend to provide more personalized service than the larger stores. Regardless of the pharmacy you choose, it is always a good idea to know where a 24-hour pharmacy is located in case of a late-night emergency. LOCATION A pharmacy's location is just as important as its hours of operation. Using a pharmacy that is close to your house is not only convenient, but makes purchasing your pharmaceutical needs much easier. You may even be able to find a store that is on your way home from work or school, allowing you to quickly and easily stop and pick up your medication on your way home. It is also useful to have a pharmacy that is only a few minutes away, in case someone in your family becomes sick in the middle of the night. DRUG COVERAGE One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a pharmacy is whether they accept your prescription drug plan, since not every pharmacy accepts every kind of insurance. If you have insurance that covers pre- scription drug costs, it is a good idea to call ahead to make sure they take the type of insurance you carry. Even if the phar- macy has convenient hours and is conve- niently located, these advantages mean nothing if you are going to have to pay out of pocket. For people whose insurance offers lit- tle to no prescription coverage, it is smart to contact the stores in your area and ask about their policies regarding prescription discounts. Many pharmacies are now offering lower prices on various generic versions of medications, some of which may be medications that you take. By using a pharmacy that offers prescription drug discounts, you can save a good deal of money. Older patients who are on Medicare should be also careful when deciding on a pharmacy. Check with potential pharma- cies in your area to see if they accept your specific Medicare Part D plan. As there are many options available on Medicare Part D plans, it is vital to make sure the pharmacy you select is willing to work with your Medicare plan in order to cover the medications you need. SERVICE One last thing to consider when pick- ing a pharmacy is the customer service they offer. As previously mentioned, smaller neighborhood pharmacies are quickly becoming replaced by larger cor- porate owned pharmacies, so it is impor- tant to find a store where you feel at home. Do the pharmacists and staff remember your name? Does the pharmacist take the time to answer any questions you might have about your medication? Finding a pharmacy staff that is knowledgeable, helpful and friendly can go a long way. While it may not be easy to find a pharmacy that meets each of these crite- ria, with a little research you should be able to find one that fits your needs. H OW TO CHOOSE A PHARMACY WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW k j Find a pharmacy with business hours that are convenient for you. Using a pharmacy that is close to your house is not only convenient, but makes purchasing your pharmaceutical needs much easier. k j For older patients, check with potential pharmacies in your area to see if they accept your specific Medicare Part D plan. Many pharmacies are now offering lower prices on various generic versions of medications, some of which may be medications that you take.

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