The Doctor Is In

TRICARE health news, straight from the desk of Brig. Gen. W. Bryan Gamble, M.D.

Traveling with TRICARE

July 17, 2012


Summer vacation is a great time to take your family overseas and explore other countries and new cultures.  These trips should be relaxing and enjoyable, not filled with worry about a sudden illness or accident. TRICARE beneficiaries on summer vacation are covered even when they travel out of the country.

You can reduce the chances of health care problems while traveling by seeing your doctor for regular office visits and treatment of ongoing conditions before leaving town. You should also make sure your family’s records are up-to-date in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System ( Finally, make sure to refill any prescription medications before leaving for the trip. TRICARE permits you one “vacation override” (early refill) per year. Call the TRICARE Pharmacy contractor Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303 for more information.

You should also speak with your primary care manager (PCM) to find out which immunizations the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for your destination. It’s best to schedule this visit at least four to six weeks before traveling, as many immunizations take time to effectively guard against diseases, and some may require a series of vaccinations.

Anytime you have a health emergency while traveling overseas, go to the nearest emergency facility immediately. The local U.S. Embassy or Consulate can help you find a treatment facility. You can also contact the TRICARE Overseas Program (TOP) Regional Call Center/Medical Assistance line to locate the nearest medical facility or to coordinate overseas emergency care in the area where you’re traveling. For toll-free contact information, go to

Prior authorization is not required for emergency care. However, once you have received emergency care, call the TOP Regional call center number for claims assistance as soon as you are able.  Any follow-up care must be coordinated to include subsequent referrals and authorizations.

If you have TRICARE Standard and need emergency or urgent care while overseas, you should be prepared to pay up-front and submit a claim with the TOP claims processor once you arrive home. For claims mailing information, go to You may also consider purchasing travel insurance that includes overseas health coverage to help with out of pocket expenses.

You can’t control everything about a family trip overseas. However, if you take a few simple steps before you leave, and understand how TRICARE travels with you, you can cut down on vacation stress. For more information about traveling overseas with TRICARE, visit Enjoy your travels and stay safe!

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