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We Speak Veteran™

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Table of Contents

Do Veterans Need To Sign Up For Medicare?

Veterans have several healthcare options available to them, both through the VA and other programs. In some cases, it may be in the best interest of some veterans to sign up for Medicare to get extra coverage.

If you already receive VA benefits, you are not forced to enroll in Medicare. However, the VA recommends enrolling in Medicare when you become eligible. Medicare is extra coverage on top of what you’re already receiving. It can help cover some of the costs that VA benefits don’t.

This post will explore when Medicare enrollment is essential for veterans and what benefits they can expect from the program. Stay tuned for more information on this important topic!

What is VA Medicare?

Veterans Affairs (VA) Medicare is not an official term. Veterans are not forced to enroll in Medicare. Still, now more than ever, it is a good idea to have Medicare and VA health coverage. Despite what other publications may say, the Veterans Affairs encourages vets to enroll in Medicare once eligible. Veterans who participate have more coverage options for medical, hospital care, and prescription drug treatments if they also participate in Part D. Enrolling in Medicare beyond the Initial Enrollment Period may lead to late enrollment fines. Please visit the Veterans Administration website for more information on Medicare and veterans’ benefits. https://va.gov

Why Do I Need Medicare if I Have VA Benefits?

You may have heard that you don’t need Medicare if you already have veteran benefits. The VA, on the other hand, advises veterans to enroll in Medicare once they are eligible. There are several reasons for this:

  • By enrolling in Medicare, veterans have greater coverage choices for medical and hospital care.
  • VA offers prescription drug benefits. Medicare Part D also covers prescription drugs. If you enroll in Medicare Part D, you will have additional drug coverage. Your medications covered under Part D may be less expensive than the VA, or the Part D plan may cover prescriptions the VA doesn’t.
  • Enrolling in Medicare might prevent you from getting fined for delayed enrollment. VA benefits are not considered credible coverage. Therefore, if veterans with VA benefits enroll outside their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), they will likely incur a late enrollment penalty. It’s still a good idea to sign up for Medicare as soon as you’re eligible.
  • Medicare Advantage plans may now pay up to the full standard Medicare Part B premiums of $164.90 monthly (2023). 
  • Now more than ever, it makes more sense for veterans to sign up for Medicare.

So, if you’re a veteran, don’t forget to sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period! You’ll have better coverage and avoid penalties down the road.

How Does Medicare Work With Veterans Benefits?

Medicare and veterans’ benefits don’t coordinate, but they can work together to provide greater coverage for medical and hospital care and prescription drug services. Veterans enrolled in Medicare may have greater coverage choices than those not enrolled. Veterans Affairs encourages that once they become qualified, vets enroll in Medicare. By enrolling, veterans can receive their VA benefits even if they do not enroll in Medicare. In addition, they will have a broader range of coverage options for medical and hospital care and prescription medication treatments if they join Part D.

Does a Veteran Need Medicare Part B?

Those TRICARE for Life recipients who become Medicare eligible and obtain Medicare Part A must also obtain Medicare Part B to stay eligible for their TRICARE for Life. You don’t need to enroll in Part D. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the best time to enroll in Part B. By enrolling in Part B. You are providing additional options to receive health care outside the VA system.

You may also be qualified for Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans. To qualify, you must have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Medicare Advantage plans are available that can pay at least a portion of a veteran’s Part B premiums. In addition, you can keep your VA health benefits as a veteran, which means you’re covered for things that Medicare doesn’t cover. That includes everyday items, such as over-the-counter medications or hearing aids, to yearly physicals.

Consider your drug coverage options carefully before deciding whether or not to delay enrolling in Medicare. Most people don’t have to pay a premium for Part A, while Part B has a monthly fee. You may be able to get help with Medicare premiums from the federal government through Medicare Savings Programs. https://www.medicare.gov/basics/costs/help/medicare-savings-programs

Should Veterans Sign up for Medicare Part D?

The Veterans Affairs (VA) does not require veterans to enroll in Medicare Part D. If you are a veteran covered by the VA, your prescription drug coverage is considered creditable. That surpasses what is offered in Medicare Part D plans. Therefore, enrolling in Part D may not be necessary.

However, Medicare Part D can provide additional benefits that the VA does not cover. For example, Medicare Part D plans can offer a broader range of covered drugs than the VA. Part D plans may also provide prescriptions at a lower cost than the VA offers.

Suppose you are a veteran and you are eligible for Medicare. In that case, Veterans Affairs recommends that you enroll in Medicare Part D. By enrolling, veterans have a greater variety of coverage choices for medical and hospital care, as well as for prescription drug services.

Is Medicare Primary or Secondary to VA?

You can get medical care from either program if you qualify for Medicare and Veterans’ benefits. Unlike other situations, Medicare is never the secondary payer after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Remember that Medicare can’t pay for the same service your Veterans’ benefits cover and vice versa. The VA will only pay for your medical services if you use a VA facility or have the VA authorize services in a non-VA facility.

Suppose the VA approves some, but not all, of the services you received at a non-VA hospital. In that case, Medicare may cover the cost of any Medicare-covered services that the VA did not authorize. However, you would be responsible for Medicare’s coinsurance and deductible for these services. Also, suppose you have Medicare Part B (medical insurance). In that case, you may need to sign a waiver that says you understand that Medicare won’t pay for any medical services related to the condition for which you’re seeking Veterans’ benefits.

Suppose you have enrolled in Medicare and Veterans’ benefits. In that case, it’s essential to use each program wisely to get the most from your coverage. For example, suppose you have a Medicare Advantage Plan. In that case, you may want to get your health care from Medicare providers so that Medicare pays its share of the costs. However, the VA can still provide any Veterans’ benefits covered services not available through your Medicare plan. You should talk with your Benefits Coordinator at the VA to get more information about how Medicare and Veterans’ benefits work together.

https://www.medicare.gov/sites/default/files/2021-10/02179-Medicare-and-other-health-benefits-your-guide-to-who-pays-first.pdf Page 32

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