As a Medicare-eligible Veteran, you have options when it comes to healthcare. We know this transition to Medicare can be confusing so Senior65.com has listed a few points that all Vets should know when they become Medicare eligible.
VA Benefits and Medicare
It is important to note that Veteran’s Affair (VA) plans and Medicare are completely separate. VA plans only cover care at VA facilities and Medicare only covers care at Medicare assigned facilities. VA and Medicare coverage does not overlap. To confirm your VA benefits and options, please call the VA directly 1-877-222-VETS (8387). WE ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO ANSWER VA SPECIFIC QUESTIONS.
Should You Enroll in Medicare Part A If You Have VA Benefits?
Yes. It is strongly recommended that all veteran seniors enroll in Medicare Part A (Hospital Coverage). Usually there is no additional cost for Medicare Part A. This will allow you receive hospital coverage should you go to a non-VA facility. According to the VA’s website “[We] encourage you to keep your private [Medicare] health insurance.”
Should You Get Medicare Part B If You Have VA Benefits?
Yes, It is strongly recommended that all veteran seniors enroll in Medicare Part B (Medical Coverage). There is typically a monthly fee for Part B but it is usually worth it. If your VA Benefits are dropped at some point OR if your local VA facility does not cover all health services, you could pay 100% of the out-of-pocket expenses for a serious illness. The VA highly recommends that you enroll in Part B as well.
Don’t miss the Part B deadline or you will have to pay a penalty. Check out our Medicare Deadline Calculator to see when you should sign up.
Please contact Veterans Affairs directly (1-877-222-VETS (8387) with questions about specific care at your local facility.
Should You Get Medigap If You Have VA Benefits?
Perhaps. A Medicare Supplement Plan (AKA Medigap) will fill in the unpaid “gaps” in coverage such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. Medicare also includes benefits when travelling outside of the U.S. and its territories.
Medigap is a great way to protect your wealth but it is not free! Make sure to speak with your VA, Tricare or CHAMPVA representative before enrolling in any supplemental plan to ensure that it is your best course of action. Here are two reasons why you may want to enroll in a Medigap plan:
- 1) You do not live near a VA facility
- 2) You are enrolled in one of the VA lower priority groups and could potentially lose your benefits*
*“There is no guarantee that in subsequent years Congress will appropriate sufficient funds for VA to provide care for all enrollment Priority Groups. This could happen if you are enrolled in one of the lower Priority Groups. This would leave you with no health care coverage.” Source: VA.gov website.
It is important to enroll in Medigap when it is first available.. If you apply outside of your Medigap initial enrollment period you will be asked medical questions. You can be denied coverage or charged more.
Should You Get a Medicare Advantage Plan if you Have VA Benefits?
Probably. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans can help reduce your out-of-pocket risk should you go to a non-VA facility. Many MA plans have no little or no additional cost. If you go down this path we recommend that you look for a “zero premium policy.” Be sure to select one that doesn’t include prescription drugs since you most likely that get those through the VA (see below). We can help enroll in a no-cost Medicare Advantage plan at 800-930-7956.
Should you enroll in a Medicare Part D Plan if you Have VA Benefits?
Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs at the pharmacy and they cost on average around $35 a month. Most Vets do not select a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan as they have RX coverage from the VA. Good news: if you choose not to enroll in Part D when you are first eligible you can still enroll in Part D without paying a penalty. VA drug coverage is considered creditable coverage.
For further questions about Medigap, Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D, please call the number above or contact Senior65.
Please note: We are only able to give general information about Medicare related issues. If you have specific questions about your VA coverage, please contact Veterans Affairs directly.