Military med care, Tricare info, & related experiences for PA treatment?

Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 3:54am
ajas_folks's picture
Joined: 04/28/2000 - 09:00

My Hubby is most likely returning to active duty air force later this spring. As we left the military med care & Tricare before our PA child was born, we have no experience in dealing with PA as to the current military medical system.

ANYONE with current experiences to relate -- good or bad -- please post here or e-mail us.

Some questions we have -- are you finding that Tricare Standard is a better choice than Tricare Prime? Difficulties getting Epi-pen prescriptions from doctors & then how are they filled -- anyone able to fill at base pharmacy? Any good medical care facilites with regard to PA treatment?

ANYONE in Del Rio, Texas area or San Antonio who could recommend Tricare-accepting allergist &/or pediatrician with whom you've had good experience?

Tricare Supplement Insurance you might recommend?

Thanks for any help -- trying to get all the ducks in a row as we soon lose our COBRA BC/BS & go into the military Tricare system.


Posted on: Thu, 02/27/2003 - 3:25pm
MattsMommy's picture
Joined: 07/29/2002 - 09:00

Hi there!
My dh is Air Force and we live at a very small base in California. The med clinic is very limited and yet we've had nothing but good experiences with the PA issue.
First of all we are Tricare Prime and I find that to be more than adequate. We have no co-pays, are never denied an appointment, and we were referred to a pediatric allergist the second I requested it.
Yes the pharmacy carries epi-pens...I have no less than 10 in my possession (daycare, two different diaper bags, my purse, etc...) all prescribed and filled for us with no questions asked. I think the epi-pens are really something most pharmacies would carry..I don't think you have to worry about that.
I've been more than happy with our care and have received (in regards to the PA) everything we've asked for.
I do NOT want to seem as if I regularly go running to superiors with trival complaints because I've only written a letter or called on someone 3 times in the 10 years we've been married and dh active duty, but I want you to understand that you have the best of both worlds. If something happens and you feel you need a referral and you're not getting it, or if your doc is just an idiot, you do not have to abide by some chain of command as a dependent. You call whomever you feel it is appropriate to fix it. Believe me, in the military they don't like the superiors to get wind of a complaint. When the med group commander calls down and tells them to get their crap'd be AMAZED at how quickly things are corrected!
So...# 1, I don't think you'll lack for anything in regards to medical care for the PA, but # 2, if you ever DO have a problem at any military treatment can and will be heard and you'll get the care you need for your PA child.
As for San Antonio, you'll have clear access to Wilford Hall of course. It's a teaching hospital and will have every imaginable specialist right there on staff. We lived in Ohio (another base with a teaching hospital...there are only 4 in the Air Force) and I remember hating the thought of being treated at a teaching hospital. But I found two distinct advantages about it. One, they are usually the most up to date regarding treatment, meds, protocols, etc... and two, although you may be treated by a resident (and sometimes a tagalong med student) you have to remember that there is an attending doctor reviewing every breath they take. In other words, you have 2+ doctors reveiwing everything about your treatment. In my opinion that's NOT a bad thing at all!
As for Del Rio my SIL lives there now. I know it's a small clinic but I'd be surprised if you had trouble obtaining care there. It would be similar to our situation. Our regular ped handles all the prescriptions (daily antihistamine, epi-pen jr, etc...) and it's all based on the advice of the pediatric allergist. After our first two visits (testing and follow up) with the pediatric allergist, we haven't needed to go back. Our ped has taken care of all the rest.
It's really been a win/win situation for us as far as medical care and PA. It's due to lucking out with a great pediatrician, but it's also knowing how to assert my rights and obtain the best possible care for our son.
A lot of people knock the military health care and yes there are some questionable docs in the service. But after 4 years of infertility treatment we've seen and experienced every kind of doc you can imagine...and the good really DO outweigh the bad. I'd choose Tricare Prime any day of the week in regards to PA and I'd have no concerns about prescriptions and availability of care...they really will take care of you whether you're at a teaching hospital like Wilford Hall or a pothole in the road like Del Rio.
Good luck and let me know if you have more questions...(as if I didn't talk you ear off already). I'd be glad to help if you need it.
Matthew 20 months
P.S. One final note. Keep in mind that at any military treatment facility they give priority to all Tricare Prime patients. You could choose Standard but you won't be guaranteed appointments on base and will have co-pays at any off-base doc. Del Rio that probably wouldn't be a concern, but at Wilford Hall you don't want to be 3rd or 4th on the list of priority patients. That's a big, busy place and I don't think you'd ever get in. Just food for thought.

Posted on: Mon, 03/03/2003 - 5:49am
Shawn's picture
Joined: 09/07/1999 - 09:00

We also have had nothing but positive experiences with military doctors so far(the support staff are sometimes idiots, but that's another story). My husband is active Army, and we're registered with Tricare Prime. We were stationed at Ft. Campbell when my son was born. We've never had trouble getting an appointment or Epi-pens. When my son had his first reaction (fortunately, not anaphylactic, but a very quick and severe case of hives, redness, rash and itching), I contacted his PCM's office. As the rash had receded, we got an appointment for the next morning, with instructions to come to the ER if symptoms worsened. When I described the reaction to the doctor, he immediately by-passed the referal process and went upstairs to the allergy department, and pulled the allergist aside for a consultation. Within fifteen minutes, I had two Epi Jrs (they offered two more to keep at a babysitter/daycare, if he was there regularly) and an appointment with a dietician to make sure we had all the nutritional bases covered. They didn't do blood or skin testing - Doc's response was, "Why subject him to that at this point when he's obviously severely allergic?"
Most of the professionals we've seen are not real "up-to-date" on PA. They don't have a lot of references (though the allergist we saw last year did have FAAN's "Alexander" and "It Only Takes One Bite" videos), and pretty much refer us to the internet for the latest information. But, every one of them has been very clear on the severity of the allergy and the need for Epipens.

Posted on: Sat, 03/08/2003 - 8:13am
ajas_folks's picture
Joined: 04/28/2000 - 09:00

Just wanted to say THANKS to you both for all the info & advice. Exactly what I needed to read/hear. When we left the AF in 1998, the whole Tricare system was a mess & the referral system infuriating. Sounds like the medical care scene has improved. Now we just have to learn how the system will work with us as he returns to AD & goes TDY enroute (PIT at San Antonio) to PCS Del Rio.
(Veering wildly off topic) Maddy -- Does your SIL in Del Rio maybe know of a nice home for sale in good school district?? ;-)
Thanks again! EB

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