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Take As Directed

Not Taking Your Prescriptions As Directed?

You're Taking
a Chance.

What Reasons Do You Have?

Your Medication – Take As Directed

One of the most important things you can do to protect your health is to take your medications as directed by your health care provider. This is called medication adherence.

Not taking your medication as directed includes:

  • Not filling a new prescription,
  • Not picking up your medicine at the pharmacy,
  • Not refilling an existing prescription when you should,
  • Not taking medicine as you should (including skipping or stopping doses),
  • Taking more or less of a prescribed medicine, and
  • Taking medicine at the wrong time.

Follow this link for a brief video about the importance of medication adherence.

Having trouble taking your medication as directed?

If you have trouble taking your medication as directed, determine the reason(s) why. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about your medication. He or she will help you find solutions.

If you are an Excellus BlueCross BlueShield member, you can ask our licensed, clinical pharmacists questions about your medications through our Ask the Pharmacist online tool.

Follow this link for tips and strategies on how to overcome common barriers to taking your medication as directed.

I Forget to Take My Medication

Image: Pill Container

If you forget to take your medication, take the missed dose as soon as you remember, unless your health care provider tells you otherwise. If it is almost time for the next dose of medication, do not take the missed dose and continue on your regular medication schedule. Never double the dose to make up for a missed dose.

Simple ways to help you remember to take your medicine

  • Take your medications at the same time every day.
  • Plan ahead for changes in your daily routine.
  • Use a seven-day pillbox. Once a week, fill the pillbox with your medications for the entire week.
  • Set an alarm clock or use a cellphone alarm as a reminder.
  • If you have a smartphone or computer, download reminder applications (apps).
  • Keep a medication diary. Write down the name of your medication, dose, number of pills to take, and when to take them.
  • Keep all medical and lab appointments and add them to your medication diary or your smartphone or computer app.
  • Use a mail-order pharmacy, which allows for easy, convenient refills. Your medication is delivered to your door, and you’ll receive reordering reminders.

I Don't Like the Side Effects

Image: Pill Bottle Sideways

Many people find it difficult to take medications as directed because of medication side effects. Some side effects are manageable, but others are more severe.

If you experience troublesome side effects, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about options.

If you are an Excellus BlueCross BlueShield member, take advantage of our Ask the Pharmacist online tool to get answers to your medication-related questions and concerns. Your questions are answered by a licensed, clinical pharmacist.

You may require a reduced dosage or a change in medication or treatment plan. Your health care provider may adjust your medications if you have difficulty taking them, or may discuss ways to help you manage side effects.

If you take several different medications and over-the-counter drugs, it's important to let your health care provider or pharmacist know if you experience uncomfortable side effects.

My Medication is Too Expensive

Image: Brand vs Generic Cost Chart

Some people don't take their medicine as directed because the cost of the medicine is too high.

You can often save money on your prescriptions by being aware of the cost differences between brand-name drugs. While switching brands may not be for everyone, ask your health care provider if your condition allows you to try a less expensive brand-name drug.

Many brand-name drugs have generic equivalents that can save you a substantial amount of money. Generic equivalents are the exact chemical equivalent as their brand-name counterparts. And certain generic drugs may be available to you free of charge for the first month, so you can try the medication to ensure that it works without causing side effects. Follow this link to learn more about generics.

Filling your prescriptions at a mail-order pharmacy also can save you money and be more convenient.

Simple steps to consider

  • Lower-Cost Alternatives. Ask your health care provider if there’s a less expensive, but equally effective drug to treat your condition. Work with your health care provider to determine if a less expensive drug is worth a try.
  • Generic Equivalents. Generic equivalents can save you a substantial amount of money. If you use prescription antihistamines, antibiotics, pain relievers or heartburn medications, ask your doctor if a generic equivalent is available.
  • Generic Alternatives. If there's no generic equivalent, a generic alternative may be available. Generic alternatives are not exact chemical equivalents, but are in the same drug category and can be used to treat the same symptoms. For example, Teveten® is not available in generic form, but irbesartan (the generic form of Avapro®) is clinically proven to be a safe and effective treatment for high blood pressure. Learn more by clicking here.
  • Over-the-Counter Drugs. These medications are available without a prescription. Antihistamines, pain relievers and heartburn medications can often be purchased over the counter for less than your prescription copayment.
  • Fewer Tablets Per Day. Ask your health care provider if a higher dose of one tablet would work in place of taking two lower-dose tablets, which could save you up to 50 percent of the prescription cost.

Follow this link to learn more about how you can save on your prescriptions. Also, follow this link to access our cost comparison tool.

It's Inconvenient to Get My Prescriptions Refilled

Image: Filling Your Prescription Online

Consider the convenience of filling your prescriptions by phone or online and having them delivered to your home through a mail-order pharmacy. This will save you the time, trouble and expense of going to the drug store. Your prescriptions will be delivered to the address of your choice — safely, discreetly and on time.

If you take long-term prescriptions, purchasing them through a mail-order pharmacy can reduce your prescription costs. Getting a 90-day supply of your prescriptions can save you money and time, compared to getting a 30-day supply at a retail pharmacy. There's no charge for standard shipping.

Our mail-order pharmacy will get your prescription directly from your health care provider. It will send you shipping notifications and refill reminders by email or phone. You can even track the status of your prescriptions online.

I Don't Need to Take My Medication

Image: Rearching Prescriptions

Not taking your medicine as directed can be bad for your health. It can cause difficulty breathing or doing everyday things. It can rob you of a long and full life. Not taking your medicine as directed can also lead to other health problems, especially if you already have asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease or high blood pressure.

More than one in three medicine-related hospitalizations occurs because the patient did not take his/her medicine as directed. Close to 125,000 people die every year because they did not take their medicine as directed.

Resources to help you manage your medical condition:

If you’re an Excellus BlueCross BlueShield member:

  • Send your medication-related questions and concerns to our clinical pharmacy team by using our Ask the Pharmacist online tool.
  • Access our free Member Care Management program. Our team of medical professionals can assist you in managing and understanding your medical condition. For more information about this program, call: 1-800-860-2619 (TTY/TDD 1-800-421-1220) Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Questions about your prescription drug benefit: Call our Pharmacy Benefit Member Help Desk at 1-800-499-2838 (TTY/TDD 1-800-421-1220) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. From October 1 to February 14, representatives are available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Questions about your prescription drug benefit: Call our Pharmacy Benefit Member Help Desk at 1-800-724-5033 Monday - Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST

Community Support for Medication Adherence

The following groups have joined Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in its medication adherence community campaign.

  • Action for a Better Community
  • American Diabetes Association
  • American Heart Association
  • Church of Love Faith Center
  • Lifetime Health Medical Group
  • Monroe County Medical Society
  • PathStone
  • Rochester Area Society of Health-System Pharmacists
  • Rochester Business Alliance
  • United Way of Greater Rochester
  • Onondaga County Medical Society
Southern Tier:
  • Broome, Chenango and Delaware Medical Societies
  • Endwell Family Physicians
  • Lourdes Hospital
  • United Health Services
  • The Medical Societies of Oneida and Herkimer Counties
  • Mohawk Valley Health System
  • Oneida County
  • Parkway Drugs
  • Allegany County Department of Health
  • Cattaraugus County Department of Health
  • Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services
  • Crisis Services
  • Erie County Health Department
  • Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments
  • Niagara County Department of Health
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield contracts with the Federal Government and is an HMO plan and PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Excellus BlueCross BlueShield depends on contract renewal. Submit a complaint about your Medicare plan at or learn about filing a complaint by contacting the Medicare Ombudsman. .
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