If you’re a Vet and also have Medicare, you may be entitled to health care benefits through both Medicare and the Veterans Administration (V.A.). Many would say that the V.A. offers some of the best care in the U.S. through its network of more than 1,400 care facilities, including hospitals and clinics. And, Medicare offers coverage from most doctors and hospitals anywhere in America. So, there’s value in having both. When you’re deciding whether to get your health benefits from the Veterans Administration or through Medicare, here are four things you should know.
- V.A. and Medicare benefits work independently of one another. You can’t use your Medicare benefits at a V.A. hospital. And, you can’t use your V.A. benefits at a non-V.A. hospital.
- All Vets are eligible for V.A. health benefits, so long as you served in active military service for 24 continuous months or the full term for which you were called to active duty, and you were not discharged or released under dishonorable conditions. You can apply by phone at 1-877-222-VETS (8387), Mon-Fri between 8 am and 8 pm, EST or online here.
- It’s generally also wise to enroll in Medicare Part B when you become eligible, even if you have V.A. benefits. Medicare Part B will give you coverage for care from doctors and hospitals outside the V.A. system. If you do not enroll in Part B when you are first eligible, you can enroll later. But, if you delay enrolling, you will likely have to pay a premium penalty for late enrollment.
- Depending upon your service as a Vet, your V.A. benefits may include coverage for hearing aids and over-the-counter drugs that Medicare does not cover. The V.A. also covers care from doctors and hospitals in the V.A. system. And if you get your prescription drugs from the V.A., your cost generally should be far lower than anywhere else.