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Before Natural Disasters Strike, Know Your TRICARE Benefits

Image of Before Natural Disasters Strike, Know Your TRICARE Benefits. Florida National Guard Soldiers transport families through flooded roads during Hurricane Ian relief efforts in Arcadia, Fla., Oct. 3, 2022. Florida National Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) - Enhanced Response Force Package (FL-CERFP) assisted first responders as they conducted day and night time operations in support of residents in affected regions. Maritime operations granted FLNG Soldiers the capabilities to extract individuals trapped in their homes due to compromised road conditions in order to provide medical aid and ensure safety. (U.S. Army courtesy photo by Spc. Samuel Herman)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Natural disasters are so frequent that it can be difficult to predict where the next hurricane, tornado, or flood may occur. That’s why you must always be prepared. In case of a natural disaster, one of the most important preparations is to ensure you and your family have your prescription drugs and access to health care services. Understanding how your TRICARE benefit works during emergencies is crucial.

“TRICARE has policies that allow beneficiaries to get needed prescriptions and health care during emergencies,” said Sapna Surana, chief of the TRICARE Click to closeprivate sector careNetwork and non-network TRICARE-authorized civilian health care professionals, pharmacies, and suppliers.Private Sector Care Integration Office. “When a natural disaster strikes, these policies may apply to your area.”

When the government issues a state of emergency, TRICARE may temporarily change its procedures to ensure that you receive timely medical care. Here’s what you need to know.

How to get emergency prescription refills

TRICARE may authorize early refills for prescriptions during emergencies or prior to natural disasters, as stated in the TRICARE Pharmacy Program Handbook. To get an emergency refill, take your prescription bottle to any TRICARE retail network pharmacy. You should try to visit the pharmacy where you originally filled the prescription. If you used a retail chain, you can fill your prescription at another store in that chain. You can also ask your provider to call in a new prescription to any retail network pharmacyCopayments will apply to your emergency prescription refill. If your prescription bottle is unavailable or the label is damaged or missing, you should contact the TRICARE pharmacy contractor, Express Scripts, or your retail network pharmacy.

How to get emergency referral waivers

What if you’re displaced during a disaster and can’t visit your primary care manager? TRICARE may authorize blanket referral waivers in certain areas during emergencies. If a waiver is in place, it means you can see any TRICARE-authorized provider without paying point-of-service costs. If you need to file a claim, be sure to keep your receipts and file the claim as soon as possible. This will help you avoid unnecessary out-of-pocket costs.

If you’re displaced and need to find a doctor, use TRICARE’s Find a Doctor tool to find one nearby.

How to keep up with your TRICARE coverage

If your area experiences a natural disaster, there are a few things you should remember to do to after a disaster to make sure your health care needs are met.

  • Check to see if you have your Uniformed Services ID card with you. If you lose your ID card, go to the nearest ID card office to get a new one.
  • Follow appropriate referral and authorization procedures.
  • Don’t forget to transfer your TRICARE enrollment if you move after an evacuation.
  • Continue to pay your plan’s enrollment fees or monthly premiums on time, if applicable.
  • File claims in a timely manner.

How to prepare for an emergency

What you do to prepare before a disaster is also important. Do you have an emergency plan? Take time to outline how you and your family would communicate, how you would evacuate, and where you would shelter. It’s also important to have your essential items in a place that’s safe and easy to find.

When a natural disaster strikes your area, check TRICARE Disaster Alerts to learn if TRICARE has issued emergency policies such as early prescription refills or referral waivers. Follow up with your TRICARE contractor if you have any questions.

Would you like the latest TRICARE news sent to you by email? Visit TRICARE Subscriptions, and create your personalized profile to get benefit updates, news, and more.

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Last Updated: August 03, 2023
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