Using TriCARE Prime Overseas in the USA.

I have some really good news to report. Despite still being quite ill (and, actually, being much more ill then I was last time I posted), my TriCARE Prime Overseas is paying for my medical care here in the States.

Because my husband is stationed overseas and I live with him, I opt to receive my treatment in Navy medical facilities; I am enrolled in TriCARE Prime Overseas. I could have enrolled in TriCARE Standard Overseas and see Japanese docs, but I prefer to see docs who speak fluent English and practice in the USA (no offense to those who don’t – just a 100% Western medicine preference on my part!).

Since I’ve returned to the States in the last 16 days, I’ve been to the ER, a CVS Minute Clinic, and a local doctor’s office. I’ve evolved from a “virus” in Japan, to a really bad sinus infection, to really bad bronchitis, to walking pneumonia. I’m super fun to be around right now, let me tell you.

I went to the Minute Clinic assuming that I would have to pay out of pocket for the appointment and the meds, so I did that. When I got significantly worse, my parents took me to the ER, which is paid for by TriCARE. I didn’t go to the ER to begin with because I didn’t think my illness warranted a trip to the ER (joke was on me – I should have gone). Not only did TriCARE cover the visit to the ER (and the X-rays, nebulizer treatment, and the meds they gave me there), it also covered most of the cost of the meds I picked-up later at my local pharmacy (I paid $15 for two medications). Today, I paid out of pocket to see my parents’ family doc because TriCARE Prime Overseas wouldn’t pay for that, of course, but TriCARE again covered most of the cost of the 3 meds I was prescribed (I paid about $20 for 3 meds).

So, if you’re a recipient of TriCARE Prime Overseas, don’t be afraid of getting sick in the States. TriCARE will cover your ER trip and most of the cost of your medications, regardless of what kind of doc makes the prescription 🙂

I’m going to pull-out my former nursing student hat here and say something about ER visits:

My parents live near a great hospital that has a great ER; I went there when my condition worsened and the ER staff gave me great acute treatment. The trouble with going to an ER when you’re sick is that ER professionals aren’t there to provide any kind of long-term care. If you’re acutely ill, like your appendix ruptured, ERs are the right place to go for assessment, treatment, and care referrals. However, if you go to an ER with an illness, you may find yourself in a similar situation as me because ERs are not set-up to give you thorough, comprehensive care in the way that a family practice doctor is. The docs at our local ER assessed me and treated me, but ultimately they said that if I didn’t improve, I should go to a local doc, which I did. ER professionals’ primary job is to treat what they are presented with, and then refer the patient to a more appropriate care provider. I wish I had spent the money to see a local doc a week ago. My condition probably wouldn’t have worsened and I would be on the mend by now. Instead, I did the financially expedient thing and went for the free care.

Lesson learned. Now that I know that TriCARE will pay for my meds from a local doc, I will absolutely pay out of pocket to see a local doc if I’m ill in the States in the future. However, since we’re leaving Japan in August, HOPEFULLY I won’t be in this situation again. I hope, though, that my experience with using TriCARE Prime Overseas helps someone else who is visiting the States!

*My parents do not live near a military base. The closest base is about a 90 minutes away without traffic, so I don’t think that it’s worth my while to go all the way up there because car rides are very uncomfortable for me. Should I get worse, I will definitely contact TriCARE and the clinic up there to see what they’d like me to do.

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