Tricare for Life Users Surprised by Drug Cost Increase

(U.S. Air Force/Jesenia Landaverde)
Military.com | By

Over the last few weeks, I have heard from many Tricare for Life beneficiaries caught off guard by the recent increase to pharmacy costs, including a change that moved drugs that had been completely free to a charge of $7 for a 90-day supply.

Drug prices increased Feb. 1 for all Tricare users, including retirees over 65 on Tricare for Life.

A 90-day supply of generic drugs received through the system's Express Scripts mail-order pharmacy went from free to $7. Co-pays on brand-name drugs received through the mail went from $20 to $24 and from $49 to $53 for non-formulary drugs.

For prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies, a 30-day supply for generic drugs increased from $10 to $11, while brand-name drugs went from $24 to $28; non-formulary drugs went from $49 to $53.

Drugs filled at a military treatment facility continue to be free.

Drug costs typically increase slightly every Feb. 1. But the increase from free to $7 for generics received by mail came as a surprise for many users on Tricare for Life, according to feedback I've received by email. Many users had read that changes to Tricare happening Jan. 1 didn't really impact them.

So what caused the confusion? Too many changes at once.

Tricare for Life users really are not impacted by the big changes to Tricare that hit Jan. 1 beyond this minor calendar shift that most users won't even notice.

What was poorly communicated, perhaps, was that the pharmacy increases were completely separate from the Jan. 1 updates. Like all pharmacy cost changes in years past, those updates do impact Tricare for Life users.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.