Medicare Advantage for Veterans
Although it is not commonly discussed, Medicare Advantage Plans for Veterans on Tricare or VA coverage often makes sense.
While some healthcare coverage can be restrictive, you can combine Medicare Advantage with TRICARE and VA health coverage.
We’ll go over how they can work together to ensure you have available and adequate healthcare coverage.
Medicare Advantage and VA combination
To qualify for any Medicare Advantage (MA) plan you must have enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
MA plans cover the same coverage that Original Medicare does, and also covers may things Original Medicare doesn’t. Here is how you will benefit from combining VA/Tricare and MA coverage.
- Medicare Advantage plans cover your needs in one bundled plan
- Potentially avoid wait times and travel.
- VA health coverage is not guaranteed and may change
- Adding an MA gives you additional healthcare flexibility and benefits
- Medicare Advantage plans limit your out of pocket costs, Original Medicare does not.
- It covers you if you’re on a vacation outside of the United States
Medicare Advantage benefits
MA plans have to provide the same benefits of Parts A and B. That is inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility, hospice, lab tests, surgery, home health care, outpatient care, medical equipment, and some preventative services.
Some things MA plans may cover that Medicare Doesn’t:
- Adult day-care services
- Fitness memberships
- Nutrition programs
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Services and supports for those with chronic conditions
- Transportation to doctor visits
- Wellness programs
Benefits you are eligible for will depend on your area and plan providers.
When to enroll
If you are eligible for Medicare, you are eligible for an Advantage plan. But there are specific times in which you can enroll:
Initial coverage election period — Your initial coverage election period is a seven-month period that starts three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. If you are under 65 and receive Social Security disability, you qualify for Medicare in the 25th month after you begin receiving your Social Security benefits. If that is how you are becoming eligible for Medicare, you can enroll into an Advantage plan three months before your month of eligibility until three months after you became eligible.
Annual election period — Also known as open enrollment or AEP, the annual election period for Medicare Advantage is October 15 through December 7 every year. Coverage for the Part C plan you choose during this time will begin January 1 the next year. During this time, you can also add, change, or drop current coverage.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period — During this open enrollment period, you are able to change from one Advantage plan to another or drop it to return to Original Medicare.
Special Election Period — There are several things that can trigger a special election period and they are unique to an individual. It is best to speak to a licensed Medicare insurance agent to find out if you qualify for a special election period. However, there are a few common instances we can talk about. Such as, if you move outside your Medicare Advantage plan’s service area, qualify for extra help (such as a program that helps pay for your prescription drugs), or move into a nursing home you might qualify for a special election period. During this time you can make changes to your Advantage plan or return back to Original Medicare.