Due to recent baby formula shortages, is the U.S. military health care program Tricare shipping free baby formula to Tricare beneficiaries, based on how much the baby consumes each month? No, the information in the viral post is misleading: Only a small number of babies who have a medical need because of a metabolic disorder -- and a doctor's order to receive a special type of baby formula -- would be eligible for the nutritional therapy through Tricare.
A screenshot shared widely on Facebook shows a post alongside an image of a form from Military Medical Supplies (MMS), a private company that provides products to active-duty and retired veterans through Tricare insurance. One example of this screenshot was posted on Facebook on May 16, 2022. The text of the post displayed in the screenshot reads:
Due to the baby formula shortage Tricare will now pay to have it shipped directly to you.
Due to recent shortages and inflation on baby formula, Tricare has a program that supplies baby milk for free based on how much the child consumes within the month.
The process will be listed below:
1. Have the child's pediatrician fill out the attached form.
2. Email the form to [email protected]
**THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP**
Please ensure your child is enrolled into deers for it to be approved. If you have any questions or concerns please don't
(Image source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue May 17 13:56:02 2022)
The screenshot cuts the body of the post short, and the message that the child's doctor must sign off on the form is not fully communicated. The company Military Medical Supplies was caught off guard when the post including their phone number went viral in mid-May 2022. The company website has a message on the homepage stating:
Tricare formula is only covered with an approved diagnosis for dietary management. During the national shortage, our supply is limited and you may not receive an immediate order
'we require clinical notes with all prescriptions'
In a May 16, 2022, Military.com article titled, "Free Baby Formula from Tricare? Despite Viral Post, That's a No for Most Users" The owner of the Military Medical Supplies company, David Scheidt, spoke with Military.com about the situation. Military.com reported:
Tricare covers nutrition costs for food considered to be medically necessary, including standard formula for children or adults who have feeding tubes or otherwise can't consume solid foods; high-protein formula for infants on ketogenic diets to control seizures; and special formulas for those who can't digest certain things.
But to receive Tricare-covered formula, families must provide clinical notes and have a pediatrician sign off on the order, according to Scheidt and others familiar with the benefit.
Several Facebook pages of Army clinics have posted warnings about this misleading baby formula post. Lyster Army Health Clinic posted a warning on May 17, 2022, and offered a link to the Tricare page on nutritional therapy under covered services. The post read in part:
#Misinformation Alert!Amid the ongoing baby formula shortage that has unfortunately occurred over recent weeks, the image below has circulated on social media platforms claiming that TRICARE is supplying and/or delivering #babyformula directly to all beneficiaries. This information is inaccurate.
We understand that while TRICARE covers medically necessary foods (e.g., for inborn errors of metabolism), TRICARE does not cover the regular baby formula for otherwise-healthy infants. TRICARE also DOES NOT directly ship baby formula to patients. Parents with children who have a medical need for specialized formula should work with their pediatrician, PCM, or specialist in the case that the formula they need is unavailable.