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If you are eligible for Medicare and are a veteran, you may apply for more benefits through Veteran Affair (VA) plans. The VA plans give more opportunities for healthcare and may be used in addition to Medicare, but are completely separate from Medicare. One big difference between the two benefits are the locations that they may be used since there are either VA or Medicare specified facilities. To learn more about the differences and benefits of each plan, continue reading to find the best option for you.

A Look Into Medicare

Medicare is a broad term for government-sponsored insurance plans for older adults and those who qualify its enrollment requirements. Consisting of 4 main parts; Part A, B, C, and D, Medicare has a wide range of coverage depending on your needs and health status.

  • Medicare Part A is known as the plan that is tied to hospital coverage. There are few additional costs associated with part A as long as you have accumulated at least 40 calendar quarters of work in any job where you paid Social Security taxes in the U.S.
  • Medicare Part B covers most medical costs that are not hospital related. This can include check-ups or emergency visits for serious illnesses. Although there is a monthly fee (referred to as a “premium”) to obtain part B, this plan is one of the most useful to avoid high-costs for regular medical check-ups.
  • Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is a private insurance replacement for Medicare Parts A and B. By law, it must offer you the exact same benefits as the first two parts of Medicare, but you’ll likely be offered extra benefits on top of that, like prescription drug coverage. The government subsidizes your monthly premium so that you can get your healthcare at a more affordable rate.
  • Medicare Part D covers any prescription costs at pharmacies that support Medicare. This plan has a monthly fee or around $35 per month and a specific enrollment period if you wish to apply.

VA Benefits and Coverage

Veteran Affair (VA) Benefits provide additional coverage on top of what Medicare plans already offer. But it is very important to note that Medicare plans and VA Benefits do not overlap or work together. They are two completely separate healthcare options. You can obtain both simultaneously, and having both forms of health coverage is typically recommended if you have specific health conditions and/or needs.

VA Benefits cover basic treatment such as treating illness, injuries, and preventing future health risks. This type of treatment can include hospital visits, check-ups, counseling on genetic diseases, and inpatient services. Your VA Benefits could cover more, such as dental care, depending on your priority group and health recommendations from your VA provider. However, these are only available at VA Benefit providers and are not located everywhere the way Medicare-supported health offices are. This is why it is recommended that veterans who are also eligible for Medicare take advantage of both coverage plans.

What Are The Options

There are several different ways you can combine your VA benefits and your Medicare benefits in order to get the most comprehensive – and affordable – coverage for yourself. Below are some of the most popular suggestions that senior vets are taking advantage of right now.

Medicare Part A + VA Benefits

It is highly recommended by both Medicare and VA Benefits advisors that veterans also obtain or keep their Medicare Part A coverage if they qualify. Medicare Part A provides hospital coverage at a wide range of hospitals and more hospitals than those offered through VA Benefit providers. In case of an emergency, it is crucial to have Medicare Part A, especially if you are not close to a VA-supported hospital. Additionally, Medicare Part A comes at no additional cost to most seniors, so veterans should take advantage of this additional coverage.

Medicare Part B + VA Benefits

Medicare Part B is also highly recommended for veterans to keep in addition to their VA Benefits. Medicare Part B offers medical coverage which includes check-ups, doctor visits, and consultations for illnesses and injuries. Although Part B comes with a monthly fee, it is recommended to obtain this coverage because not all facilities will accept your VA Benefits. If you cannot afford to pay the monthly premium for Part B, there are additional options that you may apply for that could possibly help pay for monthly fees. This is a great option if you do not live near a VA-supported facility and need frequent doctor visits. However, it is important to apply during the designated enrollment period to avoid being denied access.

Medicare Part C/Medicare Advantage + VA Benefits

Although it is not as highly recommended as Medicare Part A and Part B, it is still important to consider whether obtaining Medicare Advantage is the right choice for your lifestyle and medical needs. Medicare Part C offers benefits that help pay for medical and hospital expenses. Medicare Advantage should be of high interest to you if you do not live near a VA-supported facility or you are in a low priority group under the VA Benefits system and could potentially lose your coverage.

Medicare Part D + VA Benefits

Most veterans do not choose to enroll in Medicare Part D because they get comprehensive Rx coverage through their VA Benefits. However, there are complications that may arise if you choose to use the other Medicare coverage plans and the VA Benefits coverage for prescriptions. If you choose to use the VA Benefits for prescriptions, you must get the prescription approved by your VA provider prior to obtaining the prescription. If you are planning on visiting a Medicare provider more frequently than a VA provider, it may be of interest to you to enroll in Medicare Part D to avoid the extra trips to your VA provider. If you are unsure if this plan is right for you, you may enroll at any time without a late enrollment penalty.

What Should Be Done Moving Forward

After reading the information above, it is important to think about your lifestyle and which coverage is best suited for your medical needs. Make sure to visit your healthcare provider to make an informed decision and get the most out of your healthcare coverage and health providers in your area. No matter what health status you have, there is a plan or a combination of plans that will be right for you.