Many veterans approaching Medicare eligibility have inquiries about whether Veterans Affairs benefits operate with the Medicare system. Generally speaking, the answer is that Medicare does not work hand-in-hand with Veterans Affairs. However, individuals can be covered by both Veterans Affairs and Medicare at the same time and benefit from doing so. To help you navigate both the Medicare and Veterans Affairs landscape, we will be going over the most frequently asked questions surrounding the two providers.
1. Do I need to sign up for Medicare?
Although signing up for Medicare is not a requirement, you can benefit to a great degree if you do sign up. If you only have health insurance through Veterans Affairs, you will only be covered within the Veterans Affairs healthcare system. On the other hand, Medicare offers coverage in nearly every facility nationwide and works with an extensive network of providers. As such, acquiring both Medicare and Veterans Affairs will allow you to possess a more well-rounded healthcare coverage. Remember that once you enroll in Medicare, you must update your information within the Veterans Affairs database.
2. Do I need to pay for Medicare?
According to Medicare, “for individuals who have worked enough quarters, Part A is premium-free.” If you fall under this category, it will be beneficial to sign up for Medicare. However, like other Medicare beneficiaries, veterans with VA benefits still have to pay for Part B premiums for outpatient coverage. Because VA benefits are not creditable for Medicare, prices may increase the longer one forgoes Part B coverage after eligibility. If you are looking to enroll in Medicare, you will be able to save more money when you sign up as soon as you are eligible. Need financial assistance with your Part B premium? Check if you are qualified for the Medicare Savings Program.
3. Do I Need Part D?
VA benefits include prescription drug coverage that is creditable for Part D. This means that both Veterans who are in the VA system do not need to acquire prescription drug coverage via a Part D plan. However, if you decide to terminate your VA coverage, you will want to sign up for Medicare’s Part D plan as soon as possible. Keep in mind that if you reside in a location wherein VA facilities are inaccessible, it might be a good idea to get the Part D plan.
4. Can I Get a Medicare Advantage Plan?
Individuals who have Parts A and B of Medicare can replace these two parts with a Medicare Advantage plan. Because the monthly costs for Advantage plans are relatively low, some plans come without premiums. However, if you are already covered within VA, Medicare Advantage plans are a great way to get extra coverage. When necessary, these plans can help with costs, since they involve maximum out-of-pocket limits that Parts A and B do not include.
5. Do I Need a Medicare Supplement Plan?
Medicare Supplement plans, also called Medigap, are plans that can provide additional benefits for those who have Part A and B. Because Part A and Part B plans do not cover all of your care needs and expenses, a Medigap plan will help cover the balance you’re responsible for. If you choose to add this plan to your current Medicare and VA coverage, you will be able to receive a more well-rounded coverage. Despite the fact that VA will not bill Medicare, they can bill your Medigap plan for certain services.
There is a myriad of benefits available for both Medicare and VA plans. Although both providers may not work together when providing benefits for their patients, combining the two providers will bring about a large number of advantages. If you are still unsure whether you should enroll in a Medicare plan, we are happy to help out. Feel free to reach out to us for more information.