How Can Medicare Benefit Veterans?

Do VA and Medicare benefits work together?

Many American veterans qualify for health insurance coverage through both Veterans Affairs (VA) and Medicare. Medicare covers people age 65 and older and those with certain disabilities. If you already have VA benefits when you turn 65, you likely will have the opportunity to sign up for your benefits through Medicare. But should you?

Before enrolling in Medicare as a veteran, it’s important to understand how each system works and whether your costs justify the coverage or convenience.

Where does VA vs. Medicare coverage apply?

VA benefits only cover you at VA facilities. To receive coverage for services at a non-VA hospital, you must get pre-authorization. Even then, your costs may not be fully covered.

Medicare will not cover care you receive at a VA facility. It pays for care you receive at Medicare-certified facilities that accept your coverage. If you have received care at a non-VA facility and VA has not fully covered your hospital costs, Medicare may help pay for Medicare covered services.

Do I have to enroll in Medicare if I have VA benefits?

Medicare is a benefit you pay taxes toward while in the workforce. You have no obligation to sign up if you do not want to, but it may be helpful as a supplement to your VA coverage.

Many veterans who are wary of the costs associated with Medicare will still choose to sign up for Medicare Part A, which covers hospital costs. Most Medicare beneficiaries receive Part A without having to pay any monthly premiums. When they choose to apply for their Medicare Part A benefits, they have the safeguard of knowing that they have hospital coverage without paying until it’s used. 

 Would I face any consequences for delaying Medicare enrollment?

Medicare Part B has a monthly premium for all beneficiaries, and is the benefit that some people choose not to sign up for when they become eligible for Medicare. When you have VA coverage, this can be a reasonable move. However, if you decide later on to add Medicare Part B coverage, you will face much higher premiums.

Medicare adds a late enrollment penalty of 10% to your monthly Part B premiums for each 12 months you went without signing up for coverage after you became eligible.

When should I apply for Medicare?

Medicare can be a great addition to your VA benefits, allowing you to receive care at any Medicare-certified facility that accepts your coverage. This can come in handy if you are traveling or need to see providers outside of the VA network.

Your time to sign up for Medicare as a veteran is after 24 months of receiving social security disability insurance or when you turn 65. It’s best to sign up for your Medicare benefits during your initial enrollment period to avoid any late enrollment penalties. For 65-year-olds, that begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday and lasts for seven months. In that time, you can add Part A, or you can expand your coverage further with Part B, prescription drug coverage and more.

To learn more about your Medicare coverage options or chat with a knowledgeable licensed insurance agent, speak with the team at Magellan Healthcare Partners today.