Plan Ahead for Disasters With TRICARE

  • Published
  • By TRICARE Communications

This year, we’ve seen the devastating effects of hurricanes, floods, snowstorms, and wildfires both in the U.S. and overseas. It’s a stark reminder that natural disasters can happen anytime and anywhere. But planning ahead and staying informed can help keep you and your family safe during a disaster. Staying healthy is important, too. That’s why TRICARE sends out disaster alerts.
“Disaster alerts are one of several resources from TRICARE that can help you prepare and stay informed during an emergency,” said Robert Agnello, deputy chief of Digital Communications, TRICARE Web and Publications, at the Defense Health Agency. “You can view these alerts on our website or sign up to receive them by email or text. They’ll let you know if TRICARE emergency policies apply to your area and how they may affect your prescriptions or access to health care.”
What exactly are these emergency policies and what steps do you need to take? Here’s a look at what you need to know.
Getting emergency prescription refills
As stated in the TRICARE Pharmacy Program Handbook, “During emergencies or prior to natural disasters, like hurricanes, TRICARE may authorize early refills for prescriptions.” This means you can refill your prescription before your current supply runs out. To get an emergency refill, contact the pharmacy that originally filled your prescription. This will help you ensure your medication is in stock and that your pharmacy is operating. If that isn’t possible, you can refill your prescription at any TRICARE retail network pharmacy. You can use the Find a Pharmacy tool to locate a network pharmacy in your area or call 1-877-363-1303 for assistance.
Some other things to keep in mind:

  • If you use a retail chain, you can fill your prescription at another store in that chain.
  • If your provider is available, they may call in a new prescription to any network pharmacy.
  • If your medication is lost or damaged due to an emergency, you may get a new supply at a local network pharmacy.
  • Copayments will apply to your emergency prescription refill.

Referral waivers for medical care
During a time of crisis, you or a family member may need medical care. But if you’re displaced during a disaster, you may not be able to visit your regular doctor. Because of this, TRICARE may authorize blanket waivers—also called referral waivers—in certain areas under a state of emergency. When you receive a disaster alert, it will let you know if a referral waiver has been issued. If you get medical care after a referral waiver, be sure to keep your receipts and file any claims with TRICARE as soon as possible. Visit Find a Doctor to locate a health care provider near you. And contact your TRICARE contractor if you have any questions.  
Don’t forget to plan ahead
Knowing when and how you can access your TRICARE benefit is just one part of disaster preparation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, also recommends that you make an emergency plan that outlines how you and your family would communicate, where you would shelter, and how you would evacuate. It’s also important to have your essential items in a place that’s safe and easy to find should you need to evacuate. These items may include:

  • Uniformed Services ID card
  • Driver’s license
  • Medical records and other important documents
  • Eye glasses or contact lenses
  • Inhalers and other medical devices

Do you or your family members have prescriptions? If so, make sure you refill them early if they’re running low. As outlined in the TRICARE Pharmacy Program Handbook, you can get up to a 90-day supply of most prescription drugs with TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery. You can have your medication sent to your home or a temporary address as needed.  
Natural disasters are unpredictable. And with COVID-19 restrictions in place, it’s more important than ever for you and your family to be prepared. Make sure you visit the TRICARE website to know what to do before, during, and after a disaster. And don’t forget to sign up to get disaster updates.