Medically Approved

Can I get my prescriptions refilled ahead of time for vacation?

3 minute read
Woman refilling a prescription

Yes, as long as you plan. Follow these steps to ensure you have enough pills when you travel. 

Lauren Bedosky

By Lauren Bedosky

Will summer travels keep you away from home for several weeks? You’ll want to prep ahead of time to make sure you have refills of any medications you take, such as birth control pills, blood pressure pills and statins.

Most insurance plans allow pharmacies to fill prescriptions before the refill date under certain circumstances, such as vacations. But your pharmacy will have to call your insurance company to request authorization.

“This process takes time,” says Amber Turrentine, PharmD. She’s associate director of business performance for the Optum Store. And if you have multiple medications that require early refills, the process can take even longer.

That said, you may be able to speed things up by doing some legwork. Being prepared can also prevent delays and other headaches.

Follow these steps to ensure that your request for a vacation medication refill goes smoothly.

Know your benefits ahead of time

While most insurance companies offer early refills, it’s still a good idea to check. Start by calling your insurance company at the member services number on your insurance card. The member service representative can review your plan information and let you know if it allows early refills.

“You may even be able to start the process of requesting these authorizations through your insurance company,” says Turrentine. This will streamline the process for your pharmacy.

Loop in your pharmacist early

When you make vacation plans, include your pharmacist on your list of people to notify. Call to let them know what dates you’ll be away.

“The pharmacy will help you determine when your next refills are due and which medications may need to be filled early,” Turrentine says. This advance preparation can help you figure out when you should call to request a vacation refill.

If you need a doctor while you’re traveling, you can schedule a virtual appointment from anywhere — no insurance required. Start here.

Get your refills squared away

Check that all your prescriptions have refills on file before you request a vacation supply from your pharmacy. “If the pharmacy needs to contact your doctor for refills before they can call your insurance company, the process will take even longer,” Turrentine explains.

The medication label will tell you how many refills you have left. The label will also show a cutoff date. As long as you request a refill before that cutoff date, you should be set. Once you pass that date, you’ll have to request a new prescription from your doctor.

Know your options

If you can’t get a vacation refill for whatever reason, don’t panic. There may be another solution.

With pharmacy services through the Optum Store, for example, you can get commonly used medications at a discounted price without going through your insurance. “When you fill your prescriptions without insurance, the pharmacy won’t need to call for a vacation authorization, and your prescriptions can be delivered directly to your home,” Turrentine says.

Keep in mind that it still takes time to process your medication request and receive your medications in the mail. For first-time customers, it can take 2 to 7 business days from your prescription order to delivery.

If you can get a vacation refill through your insurance but your pharmacy ran out of time to fill it, you may be able to get your refill during your trip. Call a pharmacy in the town where you’ll be traveling to find out if you can refill your prescriptions.

Bottom line: Thinking ahead can make your refill process go smoothly. Then you can kick back and enjoy your vacation.

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