The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recommends that veterans with VA health care enroll in Medicare Parts A and B once they become eligible. Their reason is so veterans will benefit from the strongest aspects of both programs. Additionally, enrolling when eligible could help former service members avoid potential challenges in the future.
VA health care provides strong coverage when services are received at a VA clinic. However, problems can arise if care is required or administered somewhere else. If services are not received in a VA facility or provided by a VA physician, veterans will likely need to absorb the cost of care themselves. Medicare helps veterans who may live far away from VA facilities as well as those who experience an emergency and cannot reach a VA hospital.
Under VA health care, the cost for prescriptions is generally lower than Medicare coverage under Part D. Opting in for Medicare, however, affords the ability to obtain drugs from area pharmacies instead of VA doctors. Additionally, there are certain medications that are not covered by the VA but are covered under Medicare.
Having both VA health care and Medicare will expand your options when choosing locations and providers to receive your health services. In addition, unlike Medicare, the VA program sets different priority levels based on several factors. Therefore, should the Federal government reduce or drop benefits for certain priority groups, some veterans could lose their VA benefits altogether. Medicare and VA health care are separate programs and do not coordinate with one another. Without coordination, determining which program is best for your needs and situation must be evaluated individually. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs