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September 23, 2011

Armywide News

TRICARE beneficiaries to save with prescription delivery, free vaccinations

By Terri Moon Cronk, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Beneficiaries of the TRICARE military health plan can obtain 90 days of home-delivered medication with no copayment and can get free vaccinations at participating pharmacies without seeing a doctor.

For beneficiaries who use TRICARE pharmacies, however, the retail cost of generic medications will increase from $3 to $5 for a 30-day supply, effective Oct. 1, and brand-name medications will increase from $9 to $12 for a 30-day supply.

"We’re trying to encourage people to use TRICARE’s home delivery for a 90-day supply of generic medication because, effective Oct. 1, there will be no copay," said Navy Rear Adm. (Dr.) Christine Hunter, TRICARE Management Activity’s deputy director.

Many people get their prescriptions filled at military treatment facilities, which remains "our preferred place for people to go," Hunter said.

No changes will occur in the cost of prescriptions from military hospital pharmacies, she said.

Some 70 percent of TRICARE beneficiaries obtain generic medications, and those kinds of medications will be home-delivered in a 90-day supply at no copayment, Hunter said.

According to TRICARE’s website, the Department of Defense established a uniform list of covered brand-name and generic drugs, as well as a third tier of drugs designated as "non-formulary." Prescriptions for non-formulary medications can be dispensed, but at higher cost to beneficiaries, unless the provider can establish medical necessity.

Hunter said a one-month supply of a non-formulary medication will cost $25 at a TRICARE pharmacy.

"So, it’s always better to use TRICARE home delivery for any chronic medications," she said.

Hunter suggested that people use home delivery "when they know they can tolerate a new medication, know they’re going to be on it awhile, or it’s something they’ve been taking."

The home delivery plan saves time and money for beneficiaries, and the government also benefits from savings it receives through a volume discount, Hunter noted.

TRICARE’s mail orders for prescriptions grew by about 10 percent in 2010, Hunter said.

At the same time, she added, retail growth decreased about 3.9 percent, producing a medication savings of $30 million, and people received their medications more conveniently at home.
In addition to prescription home-delivery savings, Hunter said, TRICARE offers beneficiaries seasonal flu shots, school vaccinations and other immunizations.

Beneficiaries can get most of their vaccinations from participating TRICARE pharmacies, eliminating the need to schedule clinic appointments, Hunter said.
"It’s also a great time to update your Family (vaccine) checklist so you keep everyone healthy," Hunter said.

Many schools require an update on vaccines and immunizations before children return to school, she noted. Parents typically look at a tetanus booster and other immunizations for their children, she said, and the meningococcal vaccine for children going off to college. People who plan to travel might consider a hepatitis vaccine, she added.

"Flu shots are recommended for just about everybody these days, and are available at our TRICARE pharmacies," Hunter said. "But what people might not know is the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine is recommended for more and more adults, especially for those with small children."

In the past year or so, Hunter and her staff began to make a limited number of vaccines available at TRICARE pharmacies for flu shots, the influenza A (subtype H1N1) virus, and the pneumonia vaccine. TRICARE provided 300,000 vaccines that first year, she said, and the program has expanded to all immunizations normally covered under the TRICARE preventive medicine benefit with no copayment.

Some limitations exist, Hunter noted. Pharmacy participation varies, some facilities stock only certain vaccines, and some don’t immunize children.

Others provide vaccinations only on certain days and times, she explained.

"Call ahead to make sure they have the vaccine, and if someone’s there to give it," Hunter said. "There is no copay. It is part of TRICARE’s preventive care, and we want people to be able to get it conveniently and easily."

General TRICARE information is available at the website www.tricare.mil.

Hunter suggested going to the website http://www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/ProfileFilter.do;jsessionid=TmBcLfwzXVyG8QQl5vRD4F1mJ9LqY2651nP
to find participating pharmacies by area.

More information about prescription costs is available at www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/ProfileFilter.do;jsessionid=TmpbLyCXdhKvfnk259SK1tS5TmBPJjVfxrb3QP41FBDvVh7p60rb!-1939116923?&puri=%2Fhome%2FPrescriptions%2FCosts.

For more information, TRICARE beneficiaries also can call toll free at 1-877-363-1303, which connects directly to the TRICARE Pharmacy program (Express Scripts), or in the Fort McCoy community call the Health Benefits Adviser at 608-388-7879.

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