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Fighters fill formulas for free at fort pharmacies

It stinks to be sick, but your service saves you cents

Free prescriptions is a benefit that can save you big money. Photo credit: usarmy.mil

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Failing health is a part of life. It's true that people are living longer than ever these days, but the amount of health problems we have to weather getting to that ripe old age is expanding in proportion to our years. Fortunately, we live in an age in which many medications can treat conditions where the standard prescription used to be a pine box. Healthy living isn't cheap, though, and the reaper turning his attention from you to your wallet isn't exactly a step up. But don't despair, military personnel.

You can fill your prescriptions for free at any military pharmacy. Military pharmacies can fill prescriptions written by both military and civilian providers for up to a 90-day supply of most medications, and military pharmacies stock most of the drugs you'd find on the Basic Core Formulary.

The Department of Defense and Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee work hard to maintain a uniform catalogue of drugs and medications across all full-service military treatment facilities to meet the primary care needs for all sorts of health issues, including many brand-name maintenance drugs for everyday chronic conditions. A private fresh out of basic training might feel like Captain America now, but when he or she starts feeling less like Cap and more like Stan Lee, military pharmacies can treat high blood pressure, low blood sugar, high cholesterol and low sperm count just as easily as the pharmacy at your corner drugstore. And, knock on wood, if your medical problems skew a little more esoteric, there's also the Extended Core Formulary (ECF), which catalogues medications intended for more specialized issues. It's too bad you have a condition that medical journals are going to name after you, but at least the ECF ensures you can get treated for it.

You don't have to see a military physician on base to take advantage of this perk. Military pharmacies will accept prescriptions from civilian doctors just as easily as they would from one of their own. That includes electronic prescriptions, which streamlines the process and cuts down the risk of potential errors.

While the core formularies make it unlikely, if your military pharmacy doesn't have your prescription in stock, they also network with retail pharmacies, and can even have prescriptions delivered right to your doorstep in some cases. If your drugs are out there, they can get here. This good working relationship also makes transferring your prescriptions between civilian and military pharmacies virtually hassle-free.

You may not even have to pick up your prescriptions in person at a military pharmacy. Family members and friends can pick them up for you, but the rules and regulations for that can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy, so it's important to find out the protocol for your particular pharmacy ahead of time.

Any military hospital or clinic will have a pharmacy, and there may also be freestanding pharmacies elsewhere on base. In addition to its onsite pharmacies at Madigan Army Medical Center and McChord Family Medicine Clinic, JBLM hosts an additional four freestanding military pharmacies on and around base.

For more information about free prescriptions and other medical benefits for military personnel, or to find your nearest military pharmacy, visit tricare.mil.

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