It is highly advisable by both the VA and Medicare for all Veterans to enroll in both Part A & B.
When you turn 65 you will automatically be enrolled into Part A if you qualify for Medicare. If you are receiving cash social security benefits you will also be enrolled in Part B which has a monthly premium. As a Veteran, you can drop Part B and substitute your VA Benefits as creditable coverage for Part B coverage. As this maybe permissible it’s not advisable by both the VA and Medicare. The primary reason why we as Veteran’s don’t take Part B; the VA is free while Part B has a premium.
Here’s why you should consider signing up for Medicare Part A & B:
- VA health coverage isn’t set in stone and isn’t the same for everyone. The VA assigns enrollees to different priority levels according to various factors, such as income and whether they have any medical condition that derives from their military service. If federal funding for VA health care drops or doesn’t keep pace with costs, some vets in the lower priority groups may lose VA coverage entirely.
- Having both Medicare and VA benefits greatly widens your coverage. VA coverage pays for medical services if you go to a VA hospital or doctor. If you need to go elsehwere, you’ll probably end up having to pay the full cost yourself, even in emergencies or fight with the VA to have the VA cover the services. With Medicare, you’re covered if you need to go to a non-VA provider.
- You may be subject to penalties in the future (this is rare). At some point, when you’re well past 65, you might lose VA coverage, or otherwise decide that you need Medicare. If you are not already signed up for Part B (and don’t have insurance through an employer or other source), you’ll likely have to wait a while for coverage, and you could be liable for late penalties that are permanently added to your Part B premiums. This is rare; if the VA benefits are considered credible, you will not be assessing any penalties if you lose them.
There are many great changes today with the VA but with a new administration other changes can occur which may not be so advantageous with your health needs. If you are a low priority veteran, you may lose your healthcare benefits if congress cuts funding. Keep in mind Veterans with war injuries are always priority and should be. At this late stage in life you do not want to take a chance on your healthcare needs.
Consider signing up for Part B and enroll in a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan. Between the VA Benefits, Medicare and the supplement plans you will be covered. The VA dose not work with Medicare; use the VA card at VA facilities and your Medicare Card elsewhere. You’ll find more information at the VA website on how VA care works with other insurance.