While growing up as a military kid gave me good stories to tell my friends and allowed me to travel to so many cool places, it had some complicated drawbacks. A huge one is the military insurance system, Tricare. This insurance has always been a headache, since most people can’t figure out how it works. Coming to UR, which touts itself as very accommodating and veteran friendly, I was finally ready to leave the complicated world of military insurance behind.
I specifically filled out an application before the fall semester to waive the school’s health insurance and use my own. And after learning that minors have no privacy when it comes to University Health Services, I waited until I turned 18 to make an appointment. It’s awkward when your parents have to be called for every little medical decision.
Everything was going smoothly at my appointment until the doctor told me I had no insurance on record, even though I had already filled out that whole insurance waiver. Where did that go? Into the abyss? If they don’t give it to the health center, what’s the purpose? But that was okay; no biggie, I guess. I gave them my military ID, they wrote down the information they needed, and I was on my way. They told me they sent my prescription to a CVS and that I should have no problem getting it from there.
My faith in UHS had been restored. My insurance had been successfully entered into their system, and I assumed they would have told me if I should expect any issues with it at CVS. Sadly, my optimism returned too soon, because the moment I got back to my dorm, I received a call from CVS explaining that my insurance was invalid at their pharmacy. I asked them what they were talking about, because my university’s health center had sent it over and said I shouldn’t have any trouble. Then they asked what insurance I had. I said Tricare Select, to which they responded, “Ah, military insurance.” Suddenly, I started getting flashbacks to when military insurance had troubled me before.
CVS told me politely that this was my problem and I had to figure out what pharmacy my insurance would allow me to use. All I could think was: shouldn’t UHS have known that Tricare had a closed pharmacy system, and automatically sending it to CVS was a bad assumption? I ended up calling my dad and having to explain the whole situation to him — giving up my medical privacy, and defeating the whole purpose of waiting until I was 18 to make an appointment.
After a long, complicated phone call, we figured out my prescription needed to be sent to Walgreens. I called UHS and told them to send the first prescription to Walgreens and, if I needed refills, to send them through the mail delivery service. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.
I called UHS the next day to confirm that my prescription had indeed been transferred. They assured me it had, and said to call if I had any problems. When I got to Walgreens, I was relieved to hear my prescription had reached them. The nice lady asked if I had insurance and I happily said yes, and handed her my military ID.
After she typed and squinted at my ID for a little too long, I knew there was a problem. She told me that UHS had put in the prescription for Walgreens and the mail order at the same time. Because the mail delivery service already started processing the order, I couldn’t pick up the prescription at Walgreens. According to the pharmacist, Tricare wouldn’t let me withdraw a prescription when it was being filled by another service. The health center somehow didn’t know that, but because they told me to call if I had any problems, I did just that. Straight to voicemail. I walked out of the Walgreens exasperated, disappointed, and with $18 down the drain on two Ubers.
With the number of veterans, veteran spouses, and veteran dependents present at the University, I was astounded that UHS wasn’t more aware of military insurance restrictions and specifics. I was annoyed that they didn’t know about the closed pharmacy system. I was bothered that they didn’t have my insurance on hand, even though I spent time filling out a form for it. And I was mad that they sent me to voicemail even though they said to call if I had any problems. If the University is going to brand themselves as veteran friendly and accommodating, they need to have a better understanding of military insurance. Until they do, I’ll be more hesitant to make another appointment.