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As the deadline nears for Tricare for Life beneficiaries to begin filling routine prescriptions at military pharmacies or by mail, Tricare has introduced a calculator to show just how much money they’ll save by making the switch.
Starting Feb. 14, Medicare-eligible retirees must fill long-term maintenance medication prescriptions by mail or use a military pharmacy.
Tricare recently introduced a calculator on its pharmacy web site that lets beneficiaries figure out the cost savings of filling a 90-day prescription by mail compared to the same prescription purchased at a retail pharmacy.
Since Tricare beneficiaries pay no copayments for generic medications and less than $5 a month for brand-name medications by mail, the savings can add up.
According to the calculator, a family receiving one generic prescription and two brand-name prescriptions could save $91 a quarter and up to $364 a year by switching to mail order.
Tricare beneficiaries pay $5 for a 30-day generic prescription and $17 per 30-day brand name prescription at retail pharmacies.
A 90-day prescription by mail for generic medications incurs no copayment while brand names cost $13 for a 90-day prescription.
Tricare beneficiaries pay no copayments at military treatment facilities.
The mandatory mail-order requirement for military retirees on Tricare for Life was approved by Congress as part of the 2013 defense policy bill. It was deemed a tradeoff to avoid implementing across-the-board, large Tricare pharmacy copay increases sought by the Pentagon.
Over the next month, Tricare will send affected beneficiaries notices of the pending change.
Under the program, beneficiaries will be able to opt out of the five-year initiative after one year. Their obligation starts when they first fill a prescription through mail order, according to the rule published in the Federal Register.
To make up for any delays between ordering refills and receiving them, beneficiaries will be allowed to receive up to two 30-day refills at a retail store during the transition.
Tricare is urging beneficiaries to consider making the switch now. For more information on how to transfer medications, beneficiaries can call Express Scripts, Tricare’s pharmacy benefits manager, at 877-363-1303 for more information.