Thousands of Rural Pharmacies to Depart TRICARE Network
In October of 2022, some 400 thousand TRICARE beneficiaries could be forced to search for a new retail pharmacy as thousands of rural pharmacies depart the network. In 2021, Walmart left the TRICARE pharmacy network. It was a move widely reported at the time as being associated with a dispute with the TRICARE pharmacy management company, Express Scripts, over how much of a military discount to offer.
According to some sources, Walmart was unwilling to offer “more competitive” prices to veterans. At the same time this move was announced, a separate announcement welcomed retail giant CVS to the TRICARE pharmacy network.
These moves leave the impression among some that pharmacy options coming and going from the network is fairly common. At least up to now.
The Exodus Begins October 24, 2022
Between 14 thousand and 15 thousand rural pharmacies are departing the TRICARE retail pharmacy network by the last week in October. This change affects some four percent of the TRICARE population, which may not sound like much until you read the actual number of people that may be burdened by the move.
Approximately 400 thousand people in the TRICARE system could be required to find a new TRICARE network retail pharmacy to use. TRICARE has a “pharmacy standard” that requires one TRICARE pharmacy within a 15-minute drive for 90% of all TRICARE users. But if you fall into the 10% that does have a longer commute to a network option, it may be wise to consider switching to the home delivery option.
TRICARE retail pharmacy partners can be found in more than 40 thousand retail outlets.
What to Expect from TRICARE
If you are affected by this change, you will receive an official communication from Express Scripts notifying you of the change and your options under TRICARE in your area. Both CVS and Walgreens are still in-network TRICARE pharmacy options, and when the time comes you may transfer prescriptions to a participating pharmacy.
How do you do this?
It may be as easy in some cases as taking your prescription bottles to the new participating pharmacy and having your new pharmacist do the transfer. You can also request that your doctor send prescription information to the new provider, or contact Express Scripts to switch your prescriptions to home delivery.
Switching to TRICARE Home Prescription Delivery
There are multiple options for changing to TRICARE home prescription delivery service. You will need to create an account with Express Scripts if you do not have one already. Once your account is active you can opt into home delivery as well as choose to order refills online and track prescription shipments.
You may also have an option to have your physician submit electronic prescriptions using the Express Scripts “e-Prescribe” feature. In such cases the doctor submits the order, Express Scripts processes it, and mails you the medications.
If you are required to make a co-pay the invoice is included in the shipment. Your doctor can send prescriptions directly to Express Scripts, no third party is needed.
Those who need to transfer their prescriptions using a mobile device can do so using the Express Scripts Mobile App. Search for it by name in Google Play or the Apple App Store. Another option is to call Express Scripts at (877)363-1303. Have your prescription bottle ready as the representative will need that information to make a transfer.
You can also apply by mail via the Home Delivery Order Form. Complete and mail this form to the address listed on it, along with your prescription.
Why Set Up Home Delivery Through Express Scripts?
Convenience and the lack of a commute to get to a participating pharmacy aside, the biggest benefit for some is that you can receive up to 90 days of your prescription by mail via Express Scripts. You can also set up an auto-refill option to eliminate the need for reminders as the refill date gets close.
Those two things are a major advantage for some and it’s likely one of the biggest reasons some choose the home delivery option. Add to that free standard shipping, and this could be one of the more cost-effective and time-saving pharmacy options open to you.
About the author
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.