VA Benefits & Medicare: Do you need both ?
According to CMS.gov, 50% of all Veterans are eligible for Medicare & Veterans healthcare benefits. As people get older, they have to figure out how their health care will be covered. Many seniors in the US have two important programs to consider: Medicare and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. This article will explain how VA benefits can work alongside Medicare for Veterans, giving them better healthcare options and saving money.
Who is eligible for VA Benefits?
To get healthcare from the VA, Veterans need to meet certain requirements. Here’s what makes a veteran eligible:
- Military Service: Veterans must have served in the U.S. military, navy, or air service. When they leave the service, it should not be under bad conditions.
- Length of Service: If a veteran joined the military after September 7, 1980, or started active duty after October 16, 1981, they need to have served for at least 24 months continuously. Or they should have served for the full period they were called to duty (with some exceptions for service-related disabilities).
- Service-Connected Disabilities: Veterans with disabilities that happened during active military service can qualify for VA healthcare. It doesn’t matter what other factors there are.
- Priority Groups: Veterans are divided into groups to see who gets healthcare first. Those with higher priority include those with service-related disabilities rated 50% or more, and those unable to work because of service-related conditions. Those with higher income levels are in a lower priority group.
- Special Cases: Some veterans get special eligibility for VA healthcare. This includes former prisoners of war (POWs), Purple Heart recipients, Medal of Honor recipients, and those exposed to certain dangers during their service.
- Income Check: In some situations, veterans may need to show their income and financial assets to see if they qualify for healthcare, especially for certain priority groups.
Veterans should apply for VA healthcare benefits to find out if they are eligible. They can apply online on the VA website or go to a VA medical center for help. The VA will review their application and let them know if they qualify for healthcare and what services they can get.
Who is eligible for Medicare?
Medicare is a health insurance program in the U.S. that helps certain people with their medical costs. To be eligible for Medicare, you must meet these rules:
- Age: If you are 65 years old or older, you can get Medicare. It starts in the month of your 65th birthday if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for at least ten years.
- Disability: Some people under 65 can also get Medicare if they have specific disabilities and received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for at least 24 months. This includes folks with serious conditions like end-stage kidney disease or ALS.
- Citizenship or Residency: You need to be a U.S. citizen or legal resident living in the country for at least five years continuously.
Medicare helps lots of Americans get the medical care they need as they get older or deal with certain disabilities. It’s an essential program that makes sure people can afford important medical services and treatments.
Do Veterans need Medicare at 65?
If a veteran is eligible for both Medicare and VA healthcare, they have the option to use both programs. Some veterans may find it beneficial to have both types of coverage, as each program has its advantages and may cover different services or treatments.
Ultimately, the decision to enroll in Medicare at age 65 is up to the individual Veteran. IT IS IMPORTANT to note that if Veterans DON’T sign up for Part B and then they decide later they want to, they will receive a lifetime penalty for not enrolling when first eligible. According to VA.gov , the VA recommends that Veterans do enroll in Medicare when they are first eligible. It’s essential for Veterans to carefully consider their options and consult with both the VA and Medicare representatives to make informed choices that best suit their circumstances and health requirements.
Understanding the Part B Penalty
Medicare Part B is a program that helps cover medical services like doctor visits and supplies. It’s optional, but if you don’t sign up when you’re first allowed and don’t have other good health coverage from an employer, you might face a late enrollment penalty.
The penalty is like an extra cost that’s added to your monthly Part B premium. You’ll have to pay it if you didn’t enroll during your first opportunity and didn’t have other employer sponsored health insurance. Your first opportunity to sign up starts three months before you turn 65 and lasts for seven months. If you wait and sign up later, the penalty stays with you, and you’ll have to pay more each month.
The penalty amount can change and depends on how long you went without Part B coverage after your first chance to enroll. For each full 12 months you didn’t have Part B but could have, they add 10% to your premium. If you waited for many years, the penalty can become a big additional cost.
What we Recommend
If you are a Veteran who seeks care from the VA 100% of the time, there are ways you can pick up Part B, but pay little to no money for it by enrolling in a Part B giveback plan.
This would accomplish three things.
- It would give you Part B at a reduced cost.
- It would allow you to seek care outside of the VA
- You would be able to take advantage of the extra benefits offered by the plan like dental, vision and hearing, to name a few.
If you are a Veteran who uses private doctors outside of the VA for care, then you want to pick up Medicare 100% of the time, without a question.
Whatever you decide, it is always a good idea to seek help from a licensed insurance expert that can explain all of your options in detail.