Everything You Need to Know About Tricare and Urgent Care

This sponsored post is part of a three-part series with MedExpress. We feel privileged to work with MedExpress to share this message with readers.

We have all been there. It is after normal office hours and your child is not well. The fever that has been coming and going all day just won’t break, and he is complaining of a sore throat and earache. You are kicking yourself for not calling the military appointment line when this first started this morning and it would have been easy (OK … easier) to try to get a sick appointment.

However, you had errands to run, a delivery expected between 7am and 7pm, a babysitter coming while you had a massage, whatever. Or maybe you just thought that the problem would dissipate, like it does 95 percent of the time with your child.

Now you’re in a pickle. The doctor’s office is closed, your spouse is out of town, and you are home alone with all of your small children. You are about to start dinner, but your sweet child is crying from the pain.

Back in the day, you would call the Tricare referral line and ask for your options. If you are me, they would tell you that you can either go the emergency room at your nearest military treatment facility (MTF) or drive across town in rush hour traffic to the other MTF with the pediatric urgent care.

Ooh, which option is better? Sitting for too long in an ER with all of your children and many other sick people or spending an hour in traffic only to find out that the urgent care at the other MTF has a two hour wait as well?

You found the proverbial rock and the hard place.

But guess what? As of January 1, 2018, Tricare Prime enrollees do not need a referral for urgent care. In addition, Tricare Select or any other Tricare plan enrollees can visit a Tricare- authorized provider, network or non-network, for urgent care visits. However, for select plans, restrictions may apply. It’s always best to contact your insurance provider, in this case Tricare, if you’re ever unsure! If you don’t know which plan you have, call and ask. If you do know, here is helpful information from Tricare on urgent care services.

This is amazing news.

Now, you don’thave to decide between the overcrowded MTF emergency room and the pediatric urgent care MTF across town. You can go to the urgent care that is down the street, you know, the one in the same parking lot as Chick-Fil-A? Win!

This is great news for everyone, particularly parents. But, the next question is how to you pick an urgent care. Sure the closest one is easiest, but they aren’t all created equal.

Similar to many decisions you make for your family, you do your research, read reviews, and ask other moms. You look for the urgent care center with a good reputation. You want a facility that is focused on the patient, accessible, and provides timely care.

Enter MedExpress.

MedExpress has 250 locations in 20 states and is still growing. This urgent care company focuses on YOU, the patient — with illnesses, injuries, work-related services, and basic wellness and prevention services.

All MedExpress centers are open from 8am-8pm and most patients are in and out (and on their way to feed their family dinner!) in less than an hour.

In addition, many of the most commonly prescribed medications are available at select MedExpress centers, which means no extra stop to the pharmacy on the way home with those sick, sweaty, hungry, cranky kids.

If necessary, the Tricare nurse advice line can help you make the decision between ER or urgent care. For life-threatening conditions such as trauma or chest pains, you should always choose the ER. For everyday illnesses and injuries that require timely attention, there is MedExpress.

As the mom, you truly are the healthcare CEO of the family. No one anticipates trips to urgent care, which is why it is important to have a plan in place for when it is needed. Know your options and have an idea of what you will do when the inevitable happens. Military moms are resilient, but face several unique challenges. Your spouse can be deployed, on a Temporary Duty (TDY), or maybe he or she just works long and unpredictable hours. Make one decision easier by picking an urgent care facility with your best interest at heart. Look for the MedExpress close to you and decide before the time comes if it is right for your family.

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Christy Curtis
Christy is the co-founder of Military Moms Blog. Originally from St. Louis, Christy moved to San Antonio, Texas, for college. She ended up meeting her Air Force husband there and has been on the move ever since. She has mostly lived in the Central Time Zone but also in Italy and England, and she currently calls the Mississippi Gulf Coast home. Christy has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, specializing in pediatrics, and although she teaches as an adjunct professor, most of her mad behavioral skills are used on her three small children. Christy loves to be active and spends her time running, swimming, and playing with her kids. She is an amateur DIY’er and will attempt any and all projects. She likes to stay up late and get up early, so you may find her running before the sun comes up, Internet shopping at midnight, and enjoying iced coffee in between!