Important Update On Tricare That You Need To Know

Tricare is the Department of Defense’s health insurance plan that is available to armed service members and their families. Like any health insurance plan, Tricare comes with its advantages and its limitations.

And also like other health plans, Tricare changes — coverage, prices and other features grow and shrink. In fact, one important feature of Tricare just changed. If you and your family depend on Tricare for your medical and pharmacy needs, this update is for you.

Holli Mitchell, a Thrivent Advisor in Rapid City, is a military spouse who depends on Tricare for the health care needs of her and her family. “Having our medical insurance included in the service my husband gives to our country is a nice bonus,” she says.

Tricare has many options and levels of coverage that people who are active duty and retired can choose from. It’s been a mainstay for military life for decades, and has provided consistent coverage for military families. But, if there’s one thing you can count on in military life, it’s change.

Limits to Tricare
In the case of service men and women at Ellsworth using Tricare, most health care takes place on base. Holli explains, “In order for us to be seen off base, we need a referral.” So for routine health care needs, Tricare provides excellent coverage.

Physicals, antibiotics for a sinus infection and other predictable health needs are a breeze for Tricare — as long as you can be seen on base between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Out of the ordinary health needs, though — that’s another story. Need your prescription filled at 8 p.m.? Well…

After Hours Help
If you needed to pick up a prescription later in the evening, and the 28th Medical Group is closed, you could alway head to another pharmacy to have your prescription filled. There’s a handful of options that are open either past 5 p.m. or even 24 hours a day. And this has been the go-to option for many Tricare users seeking after hours prescription help.

Think big names — Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreen. These places offer a lot of options and flexibility when it comes to having prescriptions filled. Convenience sells.

Walmart and Sam’s Dropping
Starting in October of 2022, Sam’s Club and Walmart pharmacies stopped accepting Tricare. No other local pharmacies in the Black Hills area accepts it, either. So, members of the armed forces and their families who depend on Tricare for their prescriptions have one choice for their pharmacy needs outside of base: Walgreens.
Changing pharmacies may seem like a small inconvenience. For a lot of people with Tricare, that’s all it will be. But, as Holli says, “Picking up prescriptions at only Walgreens or on base are fine options — unless you are like my family of six, including four kids, and everyone gets ill or hurt after business hours.”
There’s two things in life that will always require flexibility: having kids and serving in the military. Holli says, “As with all things in the military, adjusting is just part of what we do. So changes to the companies that take our prescription coverage is just one more thing we will make work in our lives.”

Holli says that she’s grateful for the coverage that Tricare provides for her family. The changes that happen that are beyond anyone’s control can be frustrating. But she does remind us that Tricare’s contracts with pharmacies and providers are newly negotiated every year. So, maybe next fall, Sam’s and Walmart pharmacies could come back into the Tricare network.