If you‘re a military family member wondering "Does Walmart accept Tricare insurance in 2022?", unfortunately the answer is no. As of December 15, 2021, all Walmart and Sam‘s Club locations nationwide stopped accepting Tricare health insurance for military families.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about this change, including:
- What Tricare benefits were previously offered at Walmart
- Where you can now use Tricare pharmacy and vision benefits
- Detailed alternatives that still accept Tricare insurance
- Pros and cons of popular pharmacies like Kroger and Walgreens
- Expert advice for managing this transition as a military family
I‘ll provide insightful comparisons, statistics, data tables, and plenty of actionable recommendations so you can make the best choice for your family. Let‘s start with a quick overview of the previous Tricare benefits at Walmart.
What Tricare Benefits Did Walmart Previously Offer?
Prior to ending Tricare acceptance on December 15th 2021, Walmart and Sam‘s Club locations provided two major benefits for military families with Tricare insurance:
1. Pharmacy Services
Walmart pharmacies nationwide were part of the Tricare provider network, making it easy for military families to fill prescriptions on the go.
According to data from the Defense Manpower Data Center, there are approximately 9.6 million Tricare beneficiaries across active duty, retired, and family members. For pharmacy needs, popular prescription drugs were often fully or partially covered by Tricare at Walmart:
- Generic prescriptions – Fully covered in many cases
- Brand name prescriptions – Often partially covered, with copay
- Vaccinations – Some fully or partially covered, like flu shots
This provided significant convenience for military families who move frequently. With over 4,700 Walmart pharmacy locations in the U.S., there was likely one in every town or city when transferring duty stations.
2. Vision Care Services
There was less clarity around exact Tricare vision benefits at Walmart Vision Centers. But some reports indicated military families could use Tricare insurance for eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses at certain Walmart locations.
Active duty members appeared to have the most coverage, but retirees may have also benefited. With over 3,000 Walmart Vision Centers nationwide, it offered an accessible option for maintaining eye health.
Where Can You Now Use Tricare Pharmacy and Vision Benefits?
The good news is that Tricare members still have plenty of in-network national pharmacies and vision retailers to choose from, including:
Top Pharmacies Accepting Tricare
|2,300+ in 35 states
|Accepts Tricare at all pharmacy counters
|2,400+ in 18 states
|All Tricare-approved stores listed on their pharmacy page
|Over 9,000 nationwide
|Use store locator to find Tricare locations
|Specialty pharmacy with delivery nationwide
|Ships specialty and injectable drugs for complex conditions
And don‘t forget military pharmacies on base and at VA centers. Search for an approved pharmacy near you using the Tricare pharmacy locator.
Top Vision Retailers Accepting Tricare
|700+ locations nationwide, uses store locator to find Tricare approved ones
|Cohen‘s Fashion Optical
|200+ stores, call to check Tricare acceptance
|For Eyes Optical
|100+ locations, verify Tricare approved
|Independent eye doctors
|Ask if they accept Tricare vision benefits
And don‘t forget the on-base or VA optometrists for military family members. You can also use the Tricare vision directory to find ophthalmologists and optometrists in your area that welcome Tricare insurance.
Kroger Pharmacy – A Top Walmart Prescription Alternative
With over 2,300 pharmacy locations across 35 states, Kroger is one of the most widely accessible pharmacies that still accepts Tricare prescription insurance. Here‘s an overview of key perks and drawbacks to weigh:
- Accepts Tricare at all pharmacy counters, making it easy to transfer or refill prescriptions
- Offers a zipcode locator to find Tricare pharmacies near you
- Provides convenience with pharmacy pick-up windows and drive-thrus at many stores
- Orders can be placed online for in-store or curbside pickup
- Kroger coupon book offers pharmacy discounts on select medications
- Primarily located in Midwest and Southern states
- Limited evening or 24/7 pharmacy hours at some locations
- Coupons exclude prescriptions paid for by government insurance like Tricare
- Avoid higher pricing at Kroger-owned chains like Harris Teeter and Fred Meyer
"As a retired Army family, we loved picking up scripts at our neighborhood Walmart," shares Linda R., military spouse. "But now we use Kroger which is just down the street. Make sure to ask your doctor to send new prescriptions directly there."
Walgreens – Convenience for Tricare Prescriptions Nationwide
With thousands of locations across all 50 states, Walgreens also provides military families with an accessible pharmacy that accepts Tricare insurance. Here are some key features to consider:
- Over 9,000 pharmacy locations nationwide for unbeatable access
- 24/7 or extended hours at many pharmacy locations
- Easy online tool shows Tricare approved stores
- Mobile app and website for easy refills and prescription management
- Option for home delivery on qualifying prescriptions
- Reports of insurance claim issues or rejections for some Tricare members
- Prices on some generics and prescriptions higher than competitors
- Coupons often exclude government insurance plans like Tricare
- Avoid subsidiary Duane Reade, which doesn‘t accept Tricare
"We switched all our scripts to Walgreens after the Walmart change," comments Jeff R., retired Navy veteran. Make sure to call your preferred store ahead to confirm they take Tricare for any new prescriptions."
Visionworks – Reliable for Tricare Vision Coverage
For vision care, I recommend Visionworks as an accessible retailer that continues to accept Tricare vision insurance based on reports from other military families. Here‘s an overview:
- 700+ locations nationwide makes them widely accessible
- Store locator tool shows you Tricare approved locations
- Doctors specialize in treating military members and families
- Good reputations from Tricare members on vision care quality
- Confirm Tricare acceptance before booking exam appointments
- May not accept Tricare at all franchise store locations
"We‘ve used our Tricare vision benefits at Visionworks for years," says Daniel K., Army veteran. "The optometrists understand issues like traumatic eye injuries we face on active duty. Always call ahead to double check they take your specific Tricare plan."
Tips for Transitioning From Walmart to New Tricare Providers
Switching pharmacies or vision care providers can be a headache. Here are my top 5 tips to make the transition seamless:
Confirm coverage – Always call ahead to verify your specific Tricare plan is accepted at that location.
Transfer prescriptions – Provide your new pharmacy info to your doctor so existing prescriptions can be automatically sent.
Manage refills – Time refills so you don‘t run out during the transition between pharmacies.
Compare pricing – Your out-of-pocket costs may vary between pharmacy choices. Shop around if paying a lot.
Ask for help – Pharmacy staff can assist you with transferring existing prescriptions. Don‘t be afraid to ask!
The Bottom Line – Find Providers Who Welcome Military Families
Losing Tricare acceptance at Walmart pharmacies and vision centers adds a burden for military families. But you still have excellent retail options like Kroger, Walgreens, and Visionworks who will continue providing your Tricare benefits.
I recommend calling ahead to confirm your coverage at specific stores before transferring any prescriptions or making appointments. Look for providers who specialize in serving the military community. With a few proactive steps, you can minimize disruption and continue accessing the affordable care you have earned.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m here to help you navigate these changes as seamlessly as possible.