The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides health coverage and benefits for the men and women who have served our country in uniform. But eligibility for and acceptance of VA benefits can cause confusion for vets as they approach their 65th birthday and start thinking about whether they can or should enroll in Medicare.
The VA benefits system and Medicare are two entirely separate programs with no coordination of benefits. But they are not mutually exclusive. You can receive benefits from both the VA and Medicare. If you are a veteran receiving VA benefits, you do not have to enroll in Medicare, even if you are eligible to do so. However, the VA strongly encourages eligible veterans to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B as soon as they can do so.
Here is why vets should sign up for Medicare in addition to VA benefits:
VA Benefits Are Not The Same For All Vets and Are Subject To Change
When it comes to benefits, the VA assigns veterans to different priority levels according to various factors, such as their income and whether they have any medical conditions that arise from their time on active duty. Coverage for veterans in lower priority groups may not be adequate for their needs, or coverage could disappear entirely if federal funding for VA health care programs drops, dries up, or doesn’t keep pace with health care costs.
Significantly Wider Coverage With Both VA Benefits and Medicare
Having both VA benefits and Medicare significantly expands the scope of coverage and benefits. VA coverage pays for medical care and services provided by a VA hospital or physician. However, if a veteran needs or seeks help outside of the VA system, they will need to foot the entire bill themselves unless they are enrolled in Medicare. For veterans who live far from a VA facility, having coverage for non-VA services is essential.
You May Have To Wait and Pay Penalties Later If You Don’t Enroll When Eligible
If a veteran decides to enroll in Medicare Part B well after their 65th birthday, they may have to wait a while before coverage kicks in and could be liable for late enrollment penalties that are then permanently added to their Part B premiums.
Flexibility With Prescription Drug Coverage
While VA coverage for prescription drugs is typically less expensive than coverage under Medicare Part D drug plans, having both VA and Plan D coverage provides more flexibility. Veterans who have both types of benefits can get prescriptions from non-VA doctors and fill them at local retail pharmacies rather than relying solely on the VA’s mail-order service) and to obtain medications the VA doesn’t cover.
Contact Every Way Health To Learn More About Medicare
If you have further questions about VA health benefits and how they intersect with Medicare, please get in touch with Every Way Health at 877-460-3943.