Pharmacy Programs for Non-HMO Members

These pharmacy programs are available for non-HMO members.

Over-the-Counter Equivalent Exclusion Program

Medications with an equivalent available over-the-counter (OTC) are usually not covered through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois prescription drug plans.

Some facts to consider:

  • You will not usually receive coverage for brand and generic prescription medications that have OTC versions available at the same prescription strength.
  • You may still purchase the medication – either by prescription or over-the-counter – but you will be responsible for the full cost of the drug.
  • Choosing to purchase the OTC version will often save you money.
  • To see if a specific drug is part of the program, view the over-the-counter equivalent exclusion program drug list PDF Document
  • If you have questions about the program, call the Pharmacy Program number on the back of your ID card.
  • Talk with your doctor before making any changes to your current medication regimen. As always, treatment decisions are between you and your doctor.

This program does not apply to members who have outpatient prescription drug coverage through their medical plan, processed by BlueSCRIPTSM.

Mail Service Program

PrimeMail®, the mail service pharmacy for members with BCBSIL prescription drug coverage, provides safe, fast and cost-effective pharmacy services that can save you time and money. With this program, you can obtain up to a 90-day supply of long-term (or maintenance) medications through PrimeMail. Maintenance medications are those drugs you may take on an ongoing basis to treat conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes. View the maintenance drug list PDF Document to see if your medication is included.

Ordering Through PrimeMail

When you log in to Blue Access for Members and visit your Rx Drugs page, you can use the online order form, print an order form to mail or ask that PrimeMail get in touch with your doctor to request a new prescription.

For more information about using mail service:

  • Download the PrimeMail flier PDF Document.
  • Call the Pharmacy Program number on the back of your ID card

Specialty Pharmacy Program

Your prescription drug benefit may include a specialty pharmacy program through Prime Therapeutics Specialty Pharmacy (Prime Specialty Pharmacy).

Specialty medications are those used to treat serious or chronic conditions. Examples include hepatitis C, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs are typically given by injection, but may be topical or taken by mouth. They often require careful adherence to treatment plans, have special handling or storage requirements, and may not be stocked by retail pharmacies.

View the Specialty Pharmacy Program Drug List PDF Document which includes a reminder about coverage for self-administered specialty medications.

When you purchase specialty medications through Prime Specialty Pharmacy, you can have your self-administered specialty medications delivered directly to you, or to your doctor's office. You also receive at no additional charge:

  • Support services for managing your drug therapy
  • Educational materials about your particular condition
  • Help with managing potential medication side effects
  • 24/7/365 customer service phone access

BCBSIL members who use oral oncology or hemophilia specialty drugs may have other in-network specialty pharmacy options. Log in to your Blue Access for MembersSM account to find a preferred specialty pharmacy near you.


Note: Prime Therapeutics Specialty Pharmacy LLC (Prime Specialty Pharmacy) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Prime Therapeutics LLC, a pharmacy benefit management company. BCBSIL contracts with Prime Therapeutics to provide pharmacy benefit management, prescription home delivery and specialty pharmacy services. BCBSIL, as well as several other independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, has an ownership interest in Prime Therapeutics.

Prior Authorization/Step Therapy Program

The prior authorization/step therapy program is designed to encourage safe, cost-effective medication use.

This program may be part of your prescription drug benefit plan. To find out if your specific benefit plan includes the prior authorization/step therapy program, and which drugs are part of your plan, refer to your plan materials, or call the number on the back of your ID card.

Prior Authorization

Under this program, your doctor will be required to request pre-approval, or prior authorization, through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois in order for you to get benefits for select drugs.

More information is available in the prior authorization member flier PDF Document.

Step Therapy

The step therapy program requires that you have a prescription history for a "first-line" medication before your benefit plan will cover a "second-line" drug.

  • A first-line drug is recognized as safe and works well in treating a specific medical condition, as well as being a cost-effective treatment option.
  • A second-line drug is a less-preferred or likely a more costly treatment option.

Step 1: If possible, your doctor should prescribe a first-line medication right for your condition.

Step 2: If you and your doctor decide that a first-line drug is not right for you or is not as good in treating your condition, your doctor should submit a prior authorization request for coverage of the other drug.

More information is available in the step therapy member flier PDF Document.

If you have questions about the prior authorization/step therapy program, call the number on the back of your BCBSIL ID card.

Vaccine Program

If you have coverage through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, vaccinations may be covered under the medical benefit or prescription drug benefit, based on your plan. Select vaccines can be conveniently administered at a pharmacy near you. These vaccines can help protect you and your covered family members from illnesses such as the flu, pneumonia, shingles, meningitis, HPV, rabies, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

To see which vaccines are covered under your plan, check your benefit materials for details and any necessary copays. Or, you can call the Pharmacy Program number on the back of your ID card.

  • The select vaccines covered under the prescription drug benefit are conveniently administered at a participating vaccine network pharmacy. Just hand your ID card to the pharmacist.
  • To see a complete list of all participating pharmacies, search the pharmacy network on myprime.com and filter for vaccine pharmacies. Or, you can call the number on the back of your ID card.
  • Before you go, be sure to confirm the location's participation and hours, vaccine availability and ask about any other age limits, restrictions or requirements that may apply.