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Veterans and Medicare Are you a retired service member enrolled in Tricare or are you a veteran eligible for VA health care? First, from one veteran to another, thank you for your service to our country.

If you are about to turn 65 and are eligible for Tricare for Life you must enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B but do not need to enroll in a Medicare Supplement or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Medicare will pay for Medicare-covered services, and Tricare will pay all coinsurance, copays, and deductibles. You can visit any authorized provider.

If your health services are provided by a military hospital or another federal healthcare facility, Tricare will pay all eligible or approved costs.

If you are not a retired service member but eligible for VA health care, things work differently. Though you are not required to get Medicare Part B I would highly recommend you have it. If you don’t sign up when you are first eligible you’ll have to pay a late enrollment penalty. Your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B but did not sign up for it. Also, like Schwartzenegger’s Terminator character, the Part B late enrollment penalty never stops. It lasts as long as you’re enrolled in Part B.

Need another reason to sign up for Part B? Congress is fickle and who knows when they may decide to cut off VA health benefits to veterans who spent fewer than 20 years in the service? And you may have to wait until the General Enrollment Period (from January 1 to March 31) to enroll in Part B coverage if you do not sign up when you are first eligible, which could have disastrous financial consequences. When you enroll during the General Enrollment Period your Medicare Part B coverage does not start till July 1 of that year.

Unlike Tricare, Medicare and VA benefits do not work together. You can either use your VA benefits at a VA hospital or use your Medicare benefits at a doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare. In addition, you may want to look into a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement Plan. If you decide or need to get care from an authorized Medicare provider, you will be responsible for all Medicare copays, coinsurance, and deductibles unless you have a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan.

I have clients who travel a lot and they have opted to enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan because they may not be near a VA hospital in the event of an emergency. I also have clients who have signed up for Medicare Advantage. This gives them the option of going to a Medicare provider to get a second opinion or, if the wait at a VA hospital is too long, go to a Medicare authorized provider.

For more information from Medicare.gov website and Tricare click on the links below.

How Medicare coordinates with other coverage’s.

Should I enroll in Part A & B?

Tricare, how it works.

Are you confused by your Medicare options? I specialize in Medicare products and represent all Medicare Supplement plan types. Call or email today to start plotting your course through the Medicare maze. I make the complex simple by shopping the plans and rates for you. There is never a fee and you are under no obligation to use my services.

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