Health & Safety

June 20, 2013

The cost of medicine

633rd Medical Operations Squadron

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va.  – Service members can save money by filling prescriptions at a local military treatment facility, while also saving the government a significant amount of money.

According to statehealthfacts.org, an estimated 3.8 billion prescriptions were filled in the United States in 2011, costing Americans more than $271 billion. The total nears $300 billion when over-the-counter drug remedies are included.

“Costs to the Department of Defense to fill these prescriptions vary according to point of service, but the average cost of filling a 30-day prescription is $19.90 at a Military Treatment Facility, $32.89 with mail-order service and $72.11 at a retail pharmacy,” said Capt. Kellie Zentz, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron pharmacist at Langley Air Force Base, Va,. “When Service members fill prescriptions off base, more than $180 million of potential military revenue is lost to retail pharmacies in the Tidewater, Va., area.”

Patients using military pharmacies not only save the government money, but even in a 3-month period, personal savings can add up.

“When filling at a military pharmacy, patients receive 90-day prescriptions with no co-pay, and when using a mail-order pharmacy, co-pays for the same prescription range from $0 to $43,” said Zentz “When TRICARE is used on the same prescriptions at retail pharmacies, co-pays range from $15 to $132. With the national average of 12 prescriptions per person, this could save a patient up to $1584 every 90 days.”

Many Medical Group satellite pharmacies accept hard-copy prescriptions from outside physicians and are capable of filling refills on any prescription originally filled on base.

Another cost-effective option for Service members is the TRICARE Home Delivery service, said Zentz. The service is available when a pharmacy does not have a medication, or when members do not have access to a military pharmacy.

The delivery system is cost-effective for patients when filling generic medications, as they are filled and delivered at no cost. Also, patients may receive 90-day supplies of medications, while retail-pharmacy delivery systems often only offer the option of 30-day supplies.

To enroll in TRICARE Home Delivery patients must simply visit the website at http://www.TRICARE.mil/pharmacy.

To see the DoD Formulary and compare the cost of medications, use the formulary search tool at the DoD Pharmacoeconomic Center website at http://pec.ha.osd.mil

Medical costs are continuously on the rise, and with increased costs, TRICARE members see a growing value in using military benefits. To maximize those benefits, speak with civilian physicians about receiving paper prescriptions to bring to a military pharmacy, or for visit the TRICARE website for assistance with enrollment in home delivery system.




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(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

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