So, you’re a Veteran, and the time has come to choose what Medicare Advantage plan is the best for you. It’s important to note that you want the best plan to complement the Veterans Affairs or VA Benefits you may already have.
Receiving benefits from both the VA and Medicare has its advantages and disadvantages, just like most things do in life. Sometimes you may not even need to be enrolled with Medicare if you’re already receiving VA benefits, but it all depends on your needs. It’s important to note that your VA benefits, not Medicare, will cover any care you receive at a VA facility. This goes for the care you receive at any facility Medicare has on its plan. With that said, VA benefits cover visits outside the VA network. It’s called Community Care; however, there is a network of specific doctors, and getting authorization for a community care consultation can take a while. Other things the VA doesn’t cover are over-the-counter benefits, fitness memberships, transportation benefits, grocery benefits, and more.
Some people may want to sign up for both Medicare and VA benefits if they’re looking to get a second opinion on something and don’t want only to be seen by the VA doctor at the VA facility. Having both options is great in situations of an emergency, especially if you are away from any VA-approved facility. Medicare A, B, and D are all different options Veterans can choose from.
Medicare Part A and Part B
Some veterans opt to enroll in Medicare Part A because it’s premium-free; however, they turn down Part B because of the additional monthly premium.
If you decide to enroll in Part B, you should do so during the Initial Enrollment Period. Enrolling in Part B allows you to get health care outside the VA system. Also, you may qualify for programs to help pay the Part B premium and Medicare cost-sharing.
Medicare D Plans for Veterans with VA Benefits
VA benefits offer creditable drug coverage, which is when the government considers a different kind of drug prescription care to be just as good as Medicare D. The VA drug coverage usually has no premiums and no or limited copayments for prescriptions; however, you must use VA pharmacies and facilities. If you are enrolled in VA drug coverage, you can also opt for Medicare Part D. It’s essential to compare both costs to decide which best suits your needs.
Here are some benefits of adding Part D coverage:
- You don’t live close to a VA pharmacy or facility or don’t want to use a VA provider to get prescriptions
- You want the flexibility of filling prescriptions at retail pharmacies or find the VA formulary too restrictive
- You live in a non-VA nursing home and want to get prescriptions from the long-term care pharmacy that works with your nursing home
Remember, if you enroll in VA drug coverage and Part D, the two do not work together. VA benefits will only pay at VA pharmacies and facilities, and Part D will only pay at pharmacies in your plan’s network.
Medicare Advantage-Only plans
These plans are often known as plans from Medicare that don’t include prescription drug coverage. If you’re happy and content with the prescription drug coverage you’re getting from the VA, then you can enroll in this type of plan. These plans often give Veterans more benefits they may not receive from their current VA plan, like dental or vision. Like choosing to add Medicare D to your current plan, Medicare Advantage-only plans are just another way to give you more flexibility and freedom to choose from.
Contact Your Local Medicare Agent
I am a Veteran and am very experienced with VA healthcare. Contact me today if you have VA benefits and are interested in enrolling in Medicare. Then, let’s sit down and discuss what options are available to you and which options make the most sense. Of course, you can also contact me online.