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How can you make sure that online and mail-order pharmacies are legitimate?

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The FDA says buying medicine on the Internet can be risky. Signs of a trustworthy website include:

  • It's in the U.S.
  • It's licensed by the state board of pharmacy where the website operates. (Look for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites Seal.)
  • It has a licensed pharmacist who can answer your questions.
  • You need a prescription from your doctor to buy medicine.
  • There’s a phone number you can call to talk about a problem or ask questions.

SOURCES:

The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Essential Health Benefits Standards: Ensuring Quality, Affordable Coverage."

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: "State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs" and "Copayment/coinsurance in drug plans."

Consumers Union and Consumers Report: "Your Health Plan’s Formulary: The List of Preferred Prescription Drugs."

FAIR Health: "Factors to Consider When Choosing a Health Plan" and "A New Look At Flexible Spending Plans."

Health Reform GPS, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services: "Update: Essential Health Benefits Final Rule."

National Conference of State Legislatures: "State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs."

FDA: "The Possible Dangers of Buying Medicines over the Internet" and "Generic Drugs: Questions and Answers."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Definitions of Health Insurance Terms."

Avalere Health: "Drug Coverage in Essential Health Benefits Benchmark Plans: Formulary Analysis."

American Cancer Society: "Formularies and drug coverage."

Reviewed by Sarah Goodell on February 14, 2018

SOURCES:

The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Essential Health Benefits Standards: Ensuring Quality, Affordable Coverage."

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: "State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs" and "Copayment/coinsurance in drug plans."

Consumers Union and Consumers Report: "Your Health Plan’s Formulary: The List of Preferred Prescription Drugs."

FAIR Health: "Factors to Consider When Choosing a Health Plan" and "A New Look At Flexible Spending Plans."

Health Reform GPS, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services: "Update: Essential Health Benefits Final Rule."

National Conference of State Legislatures: "State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs."

FDA: "The Possible Dangers of Buying Medicines over the Internet" and "Generic Drugs: Questions and Answers."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Definitions of Health Insurance Terms."

Avalere Health: "Drug Coverage in Essential Health Benefits Benchmark Plans: Formulary Analysis."

American Cancer Society: "Formularies and drug coverage."

Reviewed by Sarah Goodell on February 14, 2018

NEXT QUESTION:

How can I get help paying for prescription medication after I pick a health plan?

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