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3 Things to Know: Tricare Pharmacy Shake-Up

You might have heard about the Tricare pharmacy providers shake-up that is coming December 1. Here are the basics: starting on that date, Tricare users will no longer be able to hit up CVS pharmacies, including those located in Target, for their covered prescriptions. But they will be able to visit a pharmacy that's been off the table since 2011: Walgreens.

The reason? Tricare pharmacy Contract renegotiations.

But in case you don't really care about that stuff and just want to know exactly how this is going to impact you, here's the quick and dirty.

3 Things to Know About the Tricare Pharmacy Providers Shake-Up

1. CVS (and Target) are out, but a lot of other places are still in. Absolutely nothing has changed with your other pharmacy options. In fact, Tricare says they have 58,000 or so choices nationwide. Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Rite-Aid and, now, Walgreens are all on the table. So are a whole parade of local pharmacies and your nearest Military Treatment Facility. You can see the Tricare pharmacy finder here. Tricare says over 98 percent of their users have an in-network Tricare pharmacy between one and five miles from their house. Handy.

2. You can still use CVS Minute Clinics. Minute Clinics are urgent care drop-in clinics housed in CVS stores. Since that wonderful change this year that lets Prime users drop in to urgent cares twice yearly without needing a referral, Minute Clinics and other locations like them have become even easier to use. The good news is that those locations are not impacted by the CVS pharmacy decision. You can still go there to see a doctor. But if that doctor prescribes you something, you'll need to get it filled somewhere else. (That does make it decidedly less convenient.)

3. Be proactive about transferring your prescriptions. Tricare has a rule that requires you to fill maintenance medications -- those drugs you take daily and refill all the time -- by mail. That means switching to a new pharmacy should be relatively easy as you won't have many, if any, regular medications that need to moved. But just in case you for some reason do need to make transfers, get a jump start on the switch. Pick a new pharmacy and hit them up to see what information they need to move drugs over. Some locations will be able to transfer your existing prescription from CVS. Others may require a new one. That's not something you want to wait until the last minute to deal with.

Not using mail order but want to? Here's a guide for switching to Tricare pharmacy home delivery.

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