If you have Veteran’s Benefits it is a good idea to signup for Medicare A and B when you are first eligible. When you’re first eligible for Medicare, you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B.
Healthcare Coverage Widens
When you have both Medicare and VA benefits your healthcare coverage widens, but they don’t work together. As an example:
You need to go to a non-VA hospital or doctor, or outpatient facility, you are covered by being enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. If you only have VA coverage you may be responsible for substantial costs by using a non-VA facility or doctor. The reason you might have to pay is because the VA has their set of rules regarding who qualifies for coverage at a non-VA facility and this includes emergencies.
Should a Veteran get a Medigap/Supplemental plan?
As a veteran, you might not need a Medigap/Supplemental plan if you qualify for the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (ChampVA). If you are not enrolled in ChampVA, however, a Medigap plan may be necessary for what you will need to pay as Medicare Part B is an 80/20 plan, meaning Medicare pays 80% of their allowed charge and you are responsible for the 20% that Medicare doesn’t pay. Plus, there is a Part A deductible you are responsible to pay if you are admitted to the hospital.
Speak with a Tricare or CHAMPVA representative to decide whether enrolling in a supplemental plan is beneficial for you.
What About the Part D Prescription Drug Plan?
The VA prescription drug coverage in many instances is as good or better than the Medicare Part D plans and offers a more generous prescription drug program. There are some veterans who only use their VA drug coverage to get medications. If you have VA drug coverage you can delay enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan.
You can have both VA drug coverage and Medicare Part D but the two do not work together. When using your VA drug coverage you must get your drugs from VA pharmacies. With Part D you get your medications from the pharmacies that are in your plan’s network.