Tricare patients suffering through hurricanes Harvey and Irma have access to broader health care benefits as relief efforts continue, but some of those benefits are about to run out. 

Tricare procedures allowing for emergency prescription refills and for the waiver of the referral requirement are in place in some of the affected areas where governors have declared states of emergency. These procedures apply anywhere under such a declaration; for example, parts of California and Washington are in emergency status because of wildfires.  

If a beneficiary lives in a ZIP code covered by the referral waiver or refill waiver, these procedures apply to them whether or not they are evacuated, Defense Health Agency spokesman Kevin Dwyer said. More about the benefits, and the end dates:


Tricare patients can take prescription bottles to any Tricare retail network pharmacy. If you use a retail pharmacy that’s part of a chain, you can fill the prescription at another store in the chain. If your provider is available, he or she can call in a new prescription to any network pharmacy.

Otherwise, you can ask for assistance at another pharmacy, but it’s up to that pharmacy as to whether they’ll help you. Locate a network pharmacy by calling Express Scripts at 877-363-1303 or searching the network pharmacy locator.

Dates when emergency refill procedures will expire in disaster areas:

  • Sept. 15: Florida, Louisiana and Puerto Rico (all counties/parishes); Texas (all 54 counties covered); Washington (Kittitas, Lewis and Pierce counties).
  • Sept. 16: California’s Los Angeles County; U.S. Virgin Islands (all counties).
  • Sept. 17: Georgia (all counties). 


Waivers for the referral requirement will expire Sept. 30 in the following areas:

  • Florida (all counties).
  • Georgia (Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties).
  • Louisiana (Acadia, Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette and Vermilion parishes).
  • South Carolina (Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry and Jasper counties).
  • Texas (48 counties).

Dwyer also recommended that beneficiaries consider taking advantage of the Urgent Care Pilot, and the Nurse Advice Line. For complete information related to Tricare benefits before, during and after a disaster, visit

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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