Limits on drug coverage

This page contains information about programs that may limit your drug coverage.

The limits described below help UMP track drug usage, safety, and costs. Drugs may be added to any of these programs at any time.

You can find out if any of these limits apply to your drug by checking the UMP Preferred Drug List or calling Washington State Rx Services at 1-888-361-1611.

For complete information, read the "Limits on your prescription drug coverage" section of your PSHVN or UW Medicine ACN certificate of coverage.

Preauthorizing drugs

Some medications require preauthorization to determine whether they are medically necessary and meet criteria, or the plan will not cover them.

Check the UMP Preferred Drug List to find out if your drug requires preauthorization, or call Washington State Rx Services at 1-888-361-1611. You and your prescribing provider can also find the coverage criteria for your drug.

Some examples (not at complete list) of the drugs requiring preauthorization include:

  • Certain injectable drugs when purchased through a network retail or mail-order pharmacy.
  • Compounded drugs costing more than $150.

If your drug requires preauthorization, your pharmacist or prescribing provider must call 1-888-361-1611 to request it.

Drugs covered under the medical benefit rather than the prescription drug benefit have different rules for preauthorization. Call UMP Customer Service at 1-888-849-3681 for details.

Alert! Preauthorization of drug coverage only means that the plan will cover the drug—it does not change the drug’s tier. You still pay according to the drug’s tier.

Emergency fill: Emergency fill lets you get a limited quantity of certain drugs while the plan processes your preauthorization request. This option is only available when a delay could result in emergency care, hospital admission, or a serious threat to your health or others in contact with you. To learn how this works, read the "Emergency fill" section in your PSHVN or UW Medicine ACN certificate of coverage. See the list of medications available for emergency fill.

Quantity limits

Certain drugs have a quantity limit per prescription (how much or how many you get). If you need more than this limit allows, your pharmacist or prescribing provider must call Washington State Rx Services at 1-888-361-1611.

If Washington State Rx Services denies your request or your provider or pharmacist does not get preauthorization, we will cover the drug only up to the quantity limit amount. You will pay for any extra amount.

Specialty drugs

Specialty drugs are high-cost drugs that need special handling and are subject to special rules. They require preauthorization and are covered only when purchased through the plan's network specialty drug pharmacy, Ardon Health.

You can find out if a drug is a specialty drug by checking the UMP Preferred Drug List or calling Washington State Rx Services.

If you are prescribed one, call Ardon Health at 1-855-425-4085. They will provide individualized help to get you the drug you need.

Learn more about specialty drugs in your PSHVN or UW Medicine ACN certificate of coverage.

Step therapy

When a drug is part of the step therapy program, you have to try certain drugs (Step 1) before the prescribed Step 2 drug will be covered. When a prescription for a step therapy drug is submitted “out of order,” meaning you haven’t first tried the Step 1 drug before submitting a prescription for a Step 2 drug, your prescription will not be covered. When this happens, your provider will need to prescribe the Step 1 drug for you.

If you or your provider feels that you need the Step 2 prescription filled as originally written, without first trying the Step 1 drug, your pharmacist or prescribing provider can call Washington State Rx Services at 1-888-361-1611 and request coverage.

You will have to pay the entire cost of the drug if you have not tried the Step 1 drug and coverage hasn't been authorized before you get the Step 2 drug.

Note: Only network pharmacies will check to see if step therapy applies to your prescription drug. If you get a step therapy drug at a non-network pharmacy, the drug may not be covered.

When drug substitution is allowed

For more information, read "Can the pharmacist substitute one drug for another?" in your PSHVN or UW Medicine ACN certificate of coverage.

Tip: If you do not want your drug to be changed, simply ask the pharmacist to fill the prescription as written.

Generic substitution under Washington State law

When a brand-name or biological drug has a generic equivalent or interchangeable biosimilar, pharmacists in Washington State must substitute the generic equivalent or interchangeable biosimilar drug for the brand-name or biologic drug.

Your provider may write the prescription “dispense as written” if he or she wants you to get only the prescribed brand-name or biologic drug, or you can tell the pharmacist you want the brand-name or biologic drug. However, you will usually pay more if you do.

Alert! New generic drugs are released throughout the year. If you want to save money by using generics, ask your provider to allow substitution on your prescriptions, even if a generic drug isn’t available now. That way, when one becomes available, the pharmacist can automatically refill with the generic.

 Therapeutic Interchange Program (TIP)

The Washington State Therapeutic Interchange Program (TIP) allows a pharmacist to substitute a therapeutic alternative drug for a nonpreferred brand-name drug (Tier 3) in certain cases. Therapeutic alternatives are drugs that are chemically different from your prescribed drug but provide the same therapeutic benefit.

You can find out if your drug is affected by TIP by checking the UMP Preferred Drug List or calling Washington State Rx Services at 1-888-361-1611. Not all nonpreferred drugs are affected by TIP.

The pharmacist will substitute the preferred drug when your prescribing provider has “endorsed” the Washington Preferred Drug List, and:

  • You are filling your prescription in Washington State or through PPS.
  • Your prescribing provider allows substitution on your prescription. If you do not want your drug to be changed, simply ask the pharmacist to fill the prescription as written.

Regardless of whether you or your prescriber ask the pharmacist to “dispense as written,” if you get the nonpreferred drug, you will pay the higher Tier 3 coinsurance.

How TIP works at the mail-order pharmacy

The pharmacy will contact your provider to request authorization for the substitution. If approved by the provider, you will receive the alternative preferred drug along with a letter of explanation. If the pharmacy cannot get an authorization from your provider within 48 hours, the prescription will be filled as written, and you will be charged the Tier 3 coinsurance.

Travel overrides

You may request a travel override to get an extra supply of medications for extended travel. All of the conditions listed below apply.

  • You may request a travel override up to two weeks before your departure.
  • You may request no more than two travel overrides per calendar year, including all travel within or outside the United States (U.S.):
    • Within the U.S., you may request up to a 90-day supply per prescription, or as allowed under that prescription.
    • Outside the U.S., you may request up to a 6-month supply per prescription, or as allowed under that prescription.
  • Travel overrides will be granted only while you are covered by the plan. If your eligibility is ending, the plan does not cover drugs past the time when your enrollment in the plan ends.
  • You will pay applicable coinsurance for each extra supply received.

To request a travel override, call Washington State Rx Services at 1-888-361-1611.

Refill too soon

The plan will not cover a refill until 84 percent of the previous prescription should be used up. Claims for therapeutic equivalents of the previously prescribed drug will also be denied. This also applies if your prescription is destroyed, lost, or stolen.

For example, if you get a 90-day supply and you try to refill this prescription before 76 days have passed, coverage will be denied.


Washington State Rx Services
TRS: 711
Business hours: customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Network mail-order pharmacy: Postal Prescription Services (PPS)
Fax (for providers only): 1-800-723-9023
Business hoursMonday-Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT; Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT