When Disaster Strikes, Be Prepared with TRICARE

8/21/2020

If a sudden disaster struck, would you be prepared? Would you know how to access your TRICARE benefit or prescriptions? These are important questions to ask yourself during peak wildfire and hurricane season. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, major hurricanes can have winds of at least 111 mph and bring heavy rainfall that can lead to inland flooding.

Dangerous conditions put people in harm’s way and cause damage to property. So, it’s vital to make sure you have a plan in place before disaster strikes.

Here are some ways to keep you and your family safe during a disaster emergency.

Plan Ahead

The Federal Emergency Management Agency encourages you to prepare before a disaster strikes. You can do this by creating an emergency plan. Your plan should have information about how to communicate with your family, where you should shelter, and when you’ll evacuate, if necessary.

When putting your emergency plan together, don’t forget about your health care needs and access to TRICARE. Take these steps before a disaster strikes:

  • Sign up for TRICARE disaster alerts. If emergency TRICARE policies apply to your enrollment area, TRICARE will let you know. First, you must sign up to get disaster alerts by email. You can also view disaster alerts at any time on the TRICARE website.
  • Keep key medical information safe and easy to find. Searching for important papers, like birth certificates, medical records, and financial documents can be stressful. So, organize your critical documents in advance. It’s also a good idea to make a list of illnesses, allergies, and prescription bottles for all family members.
  • Get your prescriptions and medical devices ready. Whenever you’re aware of an upcoming storm—or suspect you need to evacuate—be sure to fill any prescription refills that you need. Consider using TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery, which will provide you with up to a 90-day supply of most drugs. You can have your medication sent to a temporary address, if necessary. Keep your prescriptions together and labeled in their original containers and store them in a waterproof bag or container, along with phone numbers for your doctors and pharmacies. You may also find your prescription information in your Express Scripts online profile (web or mobile app). Be sure to set up an account for each adult member of your household. Don’t forget to pack other medical supplies you may need, like inhalers, eyeglasses, or contact lenses.
  • Follow public health recommendations. COVID-19 is another reason you should plan ahead. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states you should, “Give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medicine supplies. Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies.” If online shopping isn’t an option, the CDC recommends that you continue to take steps to protect your and others’ health when leaving your house to run essential errands. You should also pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters.

Getting the Care You Need During a Disaster

You can get care during any time of crisis. But you may not be able to visit your regular doctor during a natural disaster. So, it’s important to learn about your health benefits before, during, and after an emergency.

Did you know that TRICARE may authorize referral waivers in certain areas under a state of emergency? This means you may not need a referral to get care during the referral waiver period. Be sure to keep your receipts and file any claims with TRICARE as soon as possible.

As outlined in the TRICARE Pharmacy Program Handbook, TRICARE may also authorize early prescription refills during a state of emergency in certain affected areas. Note that you’re still required to pay all applicable copayments. To get an emergency refill, take your prescription to any TRICARE retail network pharmacy. To find a pharmacy near you, you can go to the Express Scripts website. Or, you can call Express Scripts at 1-877-363-1303. If your medication is lost or damaged because of an emergency, you may get a new supply at a local network pharmacy.

While you can’t prevent all natural disasters, you and your family can prepare for them. Sign up for email updates from TRICARE, and make a disaster plan today. Visit Disaster Information to learn more.

At the time of posting, this information is current. For the most recent information, contact your TRICARE contractor or local military hospital or clinic.

Last Updated 9/1/2020