CommonCentsMom.com is advertiser-supported: we may earn compensation from the products and offers mentioned in this article. However, any expressed opinions are our own and aren't influenced by compensation. The contents of the CommonCentsMom.com website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this site (“Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial or legal advice. Always seek the advice of your Financial Advisor, CPA and Lawyer with any questions you may have regarding your situation. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website!
Medical aids are a serious business since they impact the quality of life of people who need them so much. Which typically means that people are extremely careful when purchasing new ones. The possibility of making this purchase online has, at once, made things much simpler and much more complicated. On the one hand, the convenience and accessibility are much higher. On the other, the fear of being scammed is real. So, to help make things easier, we’ve put together a guide to buying medical aids online.
Always consult a doctor first
While many services and websites for buying medical aids online claim they can get all the info they need to help you right there, this is not always true. For example, there is no way to avoid the importance of getting an eye exam and knowing your eye prescription. If any site claims to be able to get past that without one, they are lying to you. The danger of not getting a prescription first is not limited to just wasting your money. While the effects of some aids, such as hearing aids or a pointless pair of glasses, are not severe, the same cannot be said for everything.
The particular risks of invisible braces
There is one medical aid that comes with a particularly high degree of risk if bought without a prescription: invisible braces. This is because they need to adhere perfectly to the shape of your teeth. If they don’t, invisible braces of the wrong size and shape can and would cause considerable damage to the point that they can actually break pieces of your teeth off. Still, if you are shopping for invisible braces to find the best deal, you can absolutely get some for a satisfying price and quality with a prescription in hand.
The question of price
What we already discussed about buying medical aids online naturally raises the question of mounting prices. Now, the good news is that you can typically find better prices online. This is because several companies tend to have a monopoly over certain medical aids. A prime example of this is the price of glasses. Trying to buy glasses in some countries, including the US, is intimidating.
On the other hand, you can find glasses sold for as low as twenty or thirty dollars in other countries, such as Japan. With good glass quality and prescription, of course. The internet allows you to dodge some of this stranglehold on the market and the artificially inflated prices. This does come with its own pitfalls, though.
Brand vs. quality
We have already mentioned the stranglehold of certain companies on the market. However, some people still prefer dealing with them rather than buying medical aids online. This is because they perceive the known brands as ‘reliable.’ While unknown, online companies seem like potential scams. Is this necessarily wrong? Well, not really. There are things to look out for, and we will get to them soon. However, is it true that the quality of online-bought medical aids is always worse? Not at all; in fact, the quality of medical aids you can buy online is sometimes even higher than what you can buy in typical stores. Especially since some offer modifications and personalization otherwise unachievable. The only thing you need to do is learn more about the subject before committing to a purchase!
The appeal of falling for appearances
Before we get into some warnings and things to look out for, we must mention one of the largest pitfalls of buying medical aids online. Namely, the chance of prioritizing their appearance over quality and function. After all, online stores really do offer a dizzying variety of designs. Do you want some really outlandish-looking glasses you’ll never be able to buy in a regular store? You can absolutely get them. Want a wheelchair with funny characters all over it? Done and sold! However, as the experts from Consumer Opinion like to warn, you cannot get caught up in such things. That would just end up in tragedy and overspending, especially if they are not of sufficiently good quality. Pretty-looking glasses won’t actually help you see any better once you get them. And a fragile wheelchair is an obvious recipe for disaster.
The importance of reviews
The first way you can work to dodge such issues is through reviews. Lots of people are willing to make purchasing mistakes. And then they are just as prepared to complain about it to complete strangers online in the form of negative reviews. Now, will genuine businesses have no complaints leveled at them? Hardly; in fact, you can expect bad reviews to pop up even on the sites of the best-ranked medical aid manufacturers. However, what you can do is actually pay attention to their content. Meaningful bad reviews will post more than just “absolutely worthless and unusable” as their review. They typically list out all the demerits and dangers of using the product when it comes to medical aids. As such, if reviews look well put together and legitimate, you will be somewhat better informed. Better yet is talking to someone who has made a purchase before.
The right credentials
The final thing to look out for when buying medical aids online is the manufacturer's credentials. For example, if you are purchasing lenses, you need to make sure that they can clear all patient protection provisions. Messing around with something that directly contacts your eyes is never a good idea. And the list, of course, goes on and on for the various medical aids. What connects all of them is the fact that you can easily look up the certifications a manufacturer needs and whether they actually have them. It should go without saying, but let us emphasize. Never, ever make a purchase from a manufacturer who cannot or will not disclose whether or not they have the relevant certifications. This is typically a sign of something wrong with their product, even if they’d only opened up their online shop yesterday!
We hope you’ve found our guide to buying medical aids online helpful! So long as you remember to be extra careful, get the right prescription, and double-check everything online, you should be just fine.