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January 16, 2014
Reynolds Army Community Hospital

Military retirees and family members who use Tricare for Life will be required to start filling long-term prescriptions by mail starting Feb. 14.

Under an interim rule published by the government, retirees and family members age 65 and older must begin filling their maintenance medication prescriptions by mail when they come up for renewal in 2014.

The requirement applies to maintenance medications only, those you are taking on a regular basis, not those needed for acute illnesses. It also will not apply to prescriptions covered by other health insurance.

A congressional budget analysis conducted in May 2012, said the program likely would save $150 million a year, and it estimates that from 2013 to 2022, total savings from the proposal would be $1.1 billion.

The requirement also will save beneficiaries money. A 90-day supply of medication through the mail is free for generics or $13 for brand name drugs. The same amount at a retail pharmacy costs are $15 for generic and $51 for brand name drugs.

The benefits of home delivery include: free formulary generic medications, worry-free refills, multiple checkpoints that enhance safety and accuracy, delivery to the address of your choice with no cost for standard shipping and access to a pharmacist 24/7.

With a patient's permission, Express Scripts will contact the prescribing physician to help transfer the prescription. Express Scripts will staff its toll-free number to serve customers as well as pharmacists and physicians.

A 2012 Military Officers Association of America survey of 130,000 members found that more than 92 percent of those who tried the mail-order system report being "very satisfied" or "mostly satisfied" with it. Tricare's pharmacy contractor has established a telephone concierge service to help beneficiaries make the switch.

Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steve Tennison, of Pampa, Texas, who uses Tricare Standard, said his family recently received a phone call from Express Scripts offering to switch their maintenance medications to the mail order pharmacy. He described the process as "painless" and said his medications now arrive roughly every 60 days by mail, for free, according to the Military Times.

Affected beneficiaries will receive letters of the impending change. Find out more or sign up at Register online, by mail or by telephone at 877-363-1296.