TRICARE 101: Military Health Benefits Basics in Five Minutes or Less

Family enjoys healthy exercise outside

TRICARE is the health care program for almost 9.4 million service members, retirees and their families around the world that provides military health benefits and health care support to ensure mission readiness. Whether you already have TRICARE or are just starting the enrollment process, take the next five minutes to learn the basics, including how to navigate recent changes.

TRICARE enrollment: Important information before getting started

TRICARE Changes in 2020

The biggest changes to TRICARE in 2020 affect your pharmacy benefits.

There is a lot to know about the military health care program before you decide which plan is best for you and your family. TRICARE has implemented an open season for enrolling in its healthcare plans. Here are important items to know.

Available TRICARE plans

There are many different TRICARE plans, but TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select are the two primary options for active-duty service members and their families. TRICARE Prime Remote works like TRICARE Prime for active-duty service members and their families assigned to geographical regions where there is no military hospital or clinic nearby. In fact, all active-duty service members must enroll in TRICARE Prime – and will never pay out-of-pocket for any type of care within the network. Their family members and other beneficiaries, though, may choose other TRICARE plans and may incur out-of-pocket fees depending on the plan they choose.

See below for brief descriptions of the most common TRICARE plans available for service members, families and retirees. You can also visit the Plans & Eligibility section on TRICARE’s website to find information on all TRICARE plans and to compare plans.

TRICARE Prime add
TRICARE Select add

TRICARE Young Adult add
TRICARE For Life add
TRICARE beneficiaries eligible for Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program add
TRICARE Reserve Select add

For a comprehensive list of plan details and changes to the TRICARE program, visit the main TRICARE website and see how your health care may be impacted.

While Military OneSource does not directly manage or facilitate any part of the TRICARE health benefits program, we want to make sure that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for you and your family to live your best MilLife.

How to Get Home Delivery for Medications Under TRICARE

Woman with prescription pills in her hand

Current as of August 11, 2020

As part of its coronavirus disease 2019 guidance, the federal government recommends having a supply of all necessary medications on hand. For members of the military community, TRICARE offers a convenient option of getting a 90-day supply of your prescriptions through TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery.

TRICARE offers options of getting a 90-day supply of your prescriptions at military pharmacies, through its home delivery program or at a retail pharmacy. Home delivery is available all the time and is a seamless way to ensure you always have your medications.

Home delivery of your medicines can help keep you protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery

When switching to TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery, first check if you or your family members have refills remaining on any needed prescriptions. Each prescription bottle indicates the number of refills remaining. If there are no refills left, call your healthcare provider.

If enough refills remain, you can get a 90-day supply through TRICARE’s pharmacy options.

Costs for home delivery

Military pharmacies offer a 90-day supply of medications at no cost to beneficiaries. Home delivery is the next most affordable option. Getting your medicine at a retail network pharmacy is the least affordable option, because you pay three copays to order three 30-day supplies at once.

Active-duty service members have a $0 copay for a 90-day supply of covered drugs at any pharmacy. All other TRICARE beneficiaries pay the following:

  • $0 copay for generic and brand-name covered drugs at military pharmacies

  • $11 copay for generic and brand-name covered drugs through TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery

  • $39 (three 30-day $13 copays) for generic drugs and $99 (three 30-day $33 copays) for covered brand-name drugs at a retail network pharmacy

How to switch to TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery

If you have refills remaining on your prescriptions, you can switch to home delivery to get a 90-day supply delivered right to your door. You can switch by phone, online and via the Express Scripts mobile app.

  • Military pharmacy: Ask your military pharmacist to transfer your prescription to home delivery.

  • Phone: Call 877-363-1303 and have your prescription bottle ready.

  • Mobile app: If you have an existing prescription at a retail or military pharmacy, you can transfer it to delivery using the Express Scripts mobile app.

  • Online: Visit the Express Scripts Home Delivery page.

  • e-Prescribe: Ask your doctor to submit your prescription electronically (e-Prescribe).

  • Mail: Download and fill out the Express Scripts Home Delivery Order Form and then mail the form and your 90-day prescription to the address listed on the form.

You are not eligible for home delivery if you have other health insurance with a pharmacy benefit, unless your prescription isn’t covered by your other plan, or you’ve reached the dollar limit of your other plan. Home delivery is not available in Germany.

Currently, there are no pharmacy supply chain issues or outages due to COVID-19. The Defense Logistics Agency is working with prime vendors to ensure military pharmacies receive their supply if shortages do occur.

Save yourself the trip and make sure you have the medications on hand that you need. Consider the convenience of home delivery.

If you are in the middle of a permanent change of station move, you may want to hand carry your medicines. If you’re moving outside the continental United States, there are several steps to consider, including contacting TRICARE to notify them of your move.

How COVID-19 Changes Affect Training, Duty, Pay and Benefits

Military woman sitting at desk using laptop

Current as of April 29, 2020

Coronavirus disease 2019 continues to bring travel restrictions and social distancing requirements to protect service members and their families from the virus, which creates new challenges to supporting missions.

The Department of Defense developed a risk-based flexible plan to guide leaders on how to protect the health and ensure the safety of service members and their families while continuing to support critical missions.

The following questions and answers are designed to provide leaders, commanders and service providers with information to help guide service members and their families in dealing with the changes resulting from COVID-19 in areas such as travel, duty, pay and benefits, and where to find the information they need to support the safety and continued readiness of the force.

What can commanders do to ensure the safety of their service members during COVID-19 pandemic? add

How does COVID-19 affect basic allowance for subsistence? add

How does COVID-19 affect Basic Allowance for Housing and Overseas Housing Allowance? add

How does COVID-19 affect Family Separation Allowance? add

How does COVID-19 affect PCS Travel and Transportation Allowances (Per Diem)? add

How does COVID-19 affect TDY Travel and Transportation Allowances (Per Diem)? add

How does COVID-19 affect Temporary Living Expense and Temporary Lodging Allowance? add

How does COVID-19 affect Personal Property Shipments? add

How does COVID-19 affect Hardship Duty Pay-Restriction of Movement? add

How does COVID-19 affect leave?add


Reserve Component-specifics:

How does COVID-19 affect rescheduling Reserve Component Annual Training and Inactive Duty Training? add

How does COVID-19 affect training requirements through Electronic-Based Distributed Learning? add

How does COVID-19 affect Reserve Component members currently on active duty or full-time National Guard duty? add

How does COVID-19 affect release from active duty or full-time National Guard duty? add

How does COVID-19 affect special and incentive pays? add

How does COVID-19 affect service members’ Group Life Insurance Coverage for Reserve Component members? add

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

National Guard Resources

Discover how coronavirus disease 2019 restrictions affect the training, duty, pay and benefits of service members and what commanders and service providers can do to help.