Kate Is Clueless: Tricare Mail Order Pharmacy

Tricare pharmacy.

Readers, I hope that you can help your fellow Paycheck Chronicles readers and me out by telling us about the tricks and tips for using the Tricare mail order pharmacy. Readers ask me about it, and I don’t know the answers because I have never used it. Now I am trying to use it for my family, and I feel frustrated.

I’ve never had a reason to use the Tricare mail order pharmacy until recently. My daughter has been prescribed a medicine that is not available in the local pharmacy’s stock, and they’ve directed me to the mail order pharmacy to fill this prescription. Her doctor wrote out a paper prescriptions for me to use.

I’m not sure why I assumed that the process would be easy. It has me stumped already.

First, there is the form. It asks for all the sponsor’s information at the top, including gender and drug allergies. It also asks for an ID number. Is that supposed to be the social security number? I thought we weren’t using those any more. I completely messed the form up at first, because I put my daughter’s gender and drug allergies in the top section. Once I got further into the form, I realized that they were asking for that information again in the section for her information, so I went back and changed the stuff at the top. Ugh.

Now that I’m looking over the prescription requirements, it seems like her doctor didn’t fill out everything necessary. It is asking for a telephone number, and the doctor’s DEA registration number. (Of course, she’s on leave for the next four weeks.) I’ve got a call into her nurse for help, but I need this prescription now!

Please, dear readers. If you have used the Tricare mail order pharmacy, let me know how it worked for you. Are there any things I’m liable to mess up? Have you had prescriptions returns for not having the right information? How long did it take from the time you first sent in your prescription until it was filled? I am looking for any and all input.

I thank you for your help.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Mark

    It’s easy. Call them Toll-Free: 877.363.1303 and tell them you need help filling out the form. They are very helpful.

    You fill out the form and enclose it in an envelope with the scrip and mail it to the address provided. It takes up to two weeks to get the meds. If you need to start them right away ask your Doctor for a two week script and have it filed at the Base or Walmart etc. When you receive your meds from Express Scrips they will also provide a new form with the Beneficiary information filled out so next time you only fill in the Doctor info section. They also send a postage paid envelope. From now on see if your Doctor will fax in orders to them for you – it’s faster.

    Sign up on line to keep track of your orders and check status. https://www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE/

    For maintenance drugs enroll them in automatic refill.

    Hope this helps – Good Luck!

    • Mark

      I have read the other responses and just want to add – I am very happy with the Mail order System and Worry Free Refills. It saves me a two hour round trip to the Base as well as frustration I feel when I read the sign when I get there saying “Sorry, but we cannot fill new scrips at this time because the pharmacist is on vacation / deployment.” I have never called the toll free number and not spoken to a person. They have always been very helpful. I have experienced the “out of stock” notices, but I simply submit an online request to my doctor that they re-submit and it seems to work. If the system stocks you up with an extra bottle, perhaps you should put it in the bottom drawer – just in case..

    • Charles Gray

      I use it all the time, it’s very simple if you just let your doc fax the order in. They are always very helpful.

  • Jon G James

    The redesign of the TMOP website has not been an improvement in my opinion. This is especially true with respect ot “Worry Free Refills”. It is more difficult to adjust delivery date of refills and causes premature refilling of Rx. This has got to cost the system needlessly.

    • Don Duren

      you are right about the shipping RX early

  • S fillups

    Never had any problem until lately.Seems they made some changes.I have had numerous phone calls from them about meds substations and out of stock items.
    Still dont have the meds and not sure how the system works now.
    The new web page has no useful information that I need.
    Looks like it worked better before they fixed it.

    • m johnson

      you are absolutely right they run out of meds and never seem to get them back in stock,which leave the person on the position of have to pay civilian pharmacy prices. they told me they were out of stock of verapamil (blood pressure) they said there contractor was out of stock. simple solution find a contractor who can meet there contractural requirements.

  • Lowell Miller

    My doctor finally with the help of the subsidised electronic medical record system really works great. Example: wife had physical and due for a new script. Before she got home, we had an email from Express Scripts saying they had received the prescription request. Next day it was on it’s way If you are registered with DEERS and your doctor is up to date the Dr office can go to Tricare Subscription site for providers and set things up, then they just fill in info on the document, Click and it;s there….just remember with mail order (90 day supply) he can write a one year script if a maintenance drug and they can ship automatically if you set that up to do so or you can order a refill on the site. They won’t ship until about a week prior to running out. Here is a link to ES site. https://www.express-scripts.com/TRICARE/

    • Don Duren

      Call the Dr’s office and have them fax all the Info to TRLCARE they should do it

  • Mary

    It was simple. It took less than 10 minutes to transfer both my husband and my prescriptions to mail order express scripts. We did it on their website. You don’t really need prescriptions, they call you doctors office and get everything they need. On the website they have lists of everything you’ve purchased in the past from drug stores or facilities and it is really just a matter of point and click the drugs you want to transfer to mail order. Once you’re In their system, the doctors office can send new prescriptions to express scripts. You don’t need a paper prescription anymore.

  • Chet

    I have been using it since 2008 and have had numerous problems. Make sure that your meds are in the formulary or that it is not a new drug or a narcotic. I don’t think that they will mail narcotics. If it is a medications that is NECESSARY and not in their formulary you must get approval for it before they will fill it. They call it the specialty care section. Then it is a totally different ballgame.

    • Fordownr

      They WILL mail controlled drugs, but someone has to be there to sign for them. As I’m still working, that’s NOT an option for us.

  • Fordownr


    I’m a retiree an a slew of meds for a few different things. For re-occuring / long term meds ES is OK. If it’s something you only need once in a while or for a short time stick to a civilian pharmacy. For ES if you need it right aweay they DO have expedited shipping, for a fee. Your note doesn’t say if you tried more than one pharmacy. For example I get most of my meds through ES, My restricted or short term meds through Meijer. In the case where Meijer doesn’t have someing I can almost always get it at CVS or Rite Aid….

  • Jack

    If you have trouble getting past talking to a robot, and can’t get to a human.
    punch zero two or thee times. It works every time.

    Other then that, I really like the support and help they give me.

  • ken

    just have the doctor who wrote the script enter it with express scripts. you don’t need to do squat!

  • Ralph Rappuhn

    I have had long term problems in getting certain drugs for my wife and me. Allopurinol has been out of stock for almost a year but I can get it at a local pharmacy for $8.00 for a 30 days supply. It costs zero for a 90 day supply if the mail order has it. No one has told me why they cannot get it but local pharmacies can. I can think ot two other commonly used meds that I have had trouble with over the years and another one for my wife who had to buy it outside until theydecided to carry it again. When it works it is great when it doesn’t you may be looking outside at a cost that may become prohibitive.


    Been using them for years. NO PROBLEMS.

  • Patricia

    I don’t like mail order I had them once and decieded it was easier to use my local pharmacy until the refused to fill some of my scripts then I went back to mail order and it has been a nightmare. I think the government should demand that pharmacies fill the meds at tri cares costs if they are going to use military and retireed military persons scripts It is amazing that some meds cost us nothing but if we use an outside pharmacy the cost is going up and up. If they want my business then they need to go with what tricare charges me. The get benefits off their taxes for filling our scripts That should cover it. However, I am fed up with the hassel of trying to get my meds from Tricare and will probably move to outside pharmacy again when I find one that will accept my Dr. scripts for all of them not just what they want to fill.

  • Cat

    I feel the new rules are just another kick in the teeth to elderly patients who served when pay was low and you were promised “medical care for life” is you did you 20+.


    AS SOON AS THE MILITARY DEMANDED THAT ES WILL BE USED. I enrolled myself and my wife (total of 15 scripts) the problem i had was that when i submitted the scripts for home delivery, they automatically filled all the scripts
    which gave us extra quantity. I had to monitor our on hand meds vs true DUE
    time. I have been controlling the time for re-fill am now at the point of being able
    to take advantage of the auto re-fill process that ES has. As for one time meds like you take for x number of days and then no more. the EX system will tell you when they will re-fill. I cancel those meds. For those that are not
    in stock I obtain from CVS (and of course pay some fee, $5.00 to $13.00. and then before they are do for re-fill I contact ES to see if in stock. They have a
    record of the CVS fill. SO I ACTIVATE IN ES for the refill. When you receive a prescription marked NO REFILLS, contact your Doctor to submit the REFILL paperwork (via FAX) AT LEAST 10 DAYS BEFORE RUNNING OUT. A GOOD
    DOCTOR WILL HANDLE THE AUTHORIZATION FOR REFILLS AND WHEN TO IMPLEMENT THE NEW REFILL. Our Dr. does an outstanding job of supporting ES for us. Using ES has saved me a lot of money even with the
    low cost for civilian drug stores—Military installations too far for us to use when ES cannot fill.. I think this is a very good service once set up and established and the utilized. CURRENT POLITICS (INCLUDING OUR OUT GOING COMMAND IN CHIEF ARE TRYING VERY HARD TO REDUCE BENEFITS FOR “””””ALL”””””” MILITARY, ACTIVE, RESERVE, VETERANS, RETIREES WANTING THOSE WHO SERVE TO PAY FOR SOME OF THE BENEFITS THAT THEY SHOULD RECEIVE FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY.

  • Kate

    Thanks for all the replies. It seems like there are a lot of different ways and reasons to use the Express Scripts system, and I’m sure your comments will help others.

    Anyone overseas (and using an MTF that can’t/won’t fax or call in information) who has experience with this particular process?

  • Rastus78

    I have been using Express Scripts for a number of years. It is obvious to me that their web site is much poorer and difficult to use than in the past. Also I agree that the automatic renewal setup is a real pain for the customer and an added expense for the government.

  • Ila Jean Giambra

    I used to be on right away on your web site, but forgot my password and have tried to get a new one to check my account, but you just keep asking over and over for me to fill out everything over and over, so I have not managed to get on. I get all meds from mail order unless it is temporary. my name is Ila Jean Giambra, widow.

  • June Malter Lampl

    Yes I use TRICARE. They are good. Just call express scripts which is for military ID #!is your social sec # or army Id #. When you call speak to a rep find out what the cost is for3 months usually a lot less expensive. Also make sure yourdrdoesnothave to fill out a prior auth form of medically necessary form the dr’s office would have to fill that out. Have the dr fax the script or call it I if they do so. Ph 866.684.4488. Hope this helps. It’s a bit bureaucratic nonsense. But the prices are great! Good luck hope the meds help your daughter! June

  • Dave

    My doctor is able to send the prescription straight to Express Scripts. Of course this is mainly for maintenance type meds. If it were something I needed right away I’d fill it locally.

  • Lynda

    I have been using Tricare ES for a year and a half now. It has been the worst experience of my husbands deployment! My children and I are all on long term meds and the crazy runaround we have gotten has been a nightmare. My husband is a reservist on active duty so his civilian job also has regular ES we NEVER had a problem with mail order. Tricare ES has this formulary non formulary chart you need to study this because if you go to Drs and they RX a non formulary med you need preauthorization this is fun part now you have doc call preauthorization department answer questions you think now your set no now YOU need to call pharmacy depart tell them auth depart has auth and all is set but they need to confirm first. See my point the company doesn’t communicate with itself and at doc apt you don’t know what med will be prescribed. I injured myself my doc prescribed Lidoderm patch (had them through normal ES within days) it took a month and a half to finally get them!

  • Doug C

    I am a retiree and have used Express with success for maintenance scripts. I received a notice last week after filling a new script that I needed to transfer my maintenance script to Express Scripts by the second refill or I would be expected to pay the full retail amount if I continued to use a retail pharmacy. Essentially we are being forced into using a base pharmacy or express scripts.

    I use the same local pharmacy for immediate one-time refills and things like flu shots. Once they figure out how to bill Tricare (correct names and social security number) it seems to be a more simple process.

  • R/ Pass

    The real problem is when you have OHI. Proving to ES that the med is not on the OHI formulary is a mess and must be done at the beginning of each year. Seems like there ought to be a way for them to link with OHI companies. If I can use an ATM in a little town in New Zealand and get my account balance at the end of the transaction, it seems that insurance companies could link formularies together.

  • Leslie Bryant

    Living in Africa for eight years I found Express Scripts to be horrible. No one should have to wait two weeks to be told you can get the prescription at a CVS or Walmart when your in Africa and there is no CVS or Walmart. What I found really unacceptable is that I would send the scripts to them while in the US and instead of calling me, they’d send what they could provide and then tell me after I’m back in Africa with no access to CVS or Walmart that theses are over the counter so go to my local drug store. Also imagine being in Africa where most drugs are fake or poor quality and you have to take your chances on whether your buying a real or fake drug. Have to say after one year of ES’s unprofessionalism and poor service; I found the best local pharmacy in whatever country I was serving in and took my chances on the drug being a fake. I wouldn’t recommend the system and won’t go onto it until I absolutely have go. As a nurse, I feel they really need to improve their service and show flexibility and try to help those living in places other than the US. Imagine waiting two weeks needing a drug to get a note to go to Walmart and their are no Walmarts where you live. Another example of the OOD’s false promises to vets.

  • ken

    I HATE Express Scripts especially after I was put on Testosterone for low-T. They routinely claim that my Dr. ordered a one month supply when I know that a 3 month supply was ordered (happened 7 times). After being over charged a number of times my Dr. took the abnormal step of allowing me to review the orders before are submitted just to prove he was not the one screwing up. For days after Dr. submits the order you can’t verify with them that the order is correct before they dump it “right or wrong” into a box and send it. On the few times I was able to verify that “once again” the order was wrong I was the one that had to jump through hoops to get the Dr. to correct it only to have them send both the correct AND incorrect orders. In fact one time they actually sent three orders of different types of Testosterone (restricted controlled substance). Of course every time there is a mistake it’s always in their favor and I get stuck with the cost because they won’t allow anything to be returned. I have spent hours being run around in phone circles that never resolve anything, and when you try to complain to Tricare directly you just get sent back to Express scripts for more abuse. They have caused me to run out of meds a number of times, I have been overcharged an estimated $300+ over the last 18mo. And Tricare has left no useful way to deal with Express Scripts’ abuse. It is worth noting that I have talked with other vets on Testosterone that have had similar experiences to mine which makes me wonder if we are being targeted for special treatment because we are not a female seeking a sex change. And YES I’m quiet serious!

  • Megan

    Express scripts is easy for off base doctors with electronic medical records but my sons’ pediatrician is the head of the pediatric clinic at the base here and has no idea how express scripts work. It is so odd that I am bombarded with paperwork to switch to express scripts but the mtf doctors have no education on the subject. I love express scripts personally. Better than the one hour wait at the base. Looking forward to going off base with my children when new fiscal year starts. The care on base keeps going downhill. My sons pediatrician hasn’t had a full time nurse in over three months.