Long-Term Care Benefits and Prescription Drugs (when prescribed by a VA physician) are also covered regardless of which priority group you’re in, and further health services are covered to certain limits.
To learn more about VA-covered health services and for further information about the Veterans Affairs Medical Benefits Package, you should consult the VA Health Care Benefits handbook or call Veterans Affairs at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).
It’s easy to apply for Veterans Affairs medical benefits, and you shouldn’t delay doing so if you think you may qualify for VA benefits. Even if you suspect you don’t qualify, there’s no harm in applying. It’s free—and even if you only qualify for placement in a low-priority group, the VA Medical Benefits Package is offers good, comprehensive coverage you don’t want to give up if you don’t have to.
Good … but not perfect.
Remember, most people can expect to wait for VA healthcare services. On top of that, not everything is covered, and, though VA health coverage doesn’t require you to pay monthly premiums, there are copayments and other financial obligations associated with Veterans Affairs health benefits.
If you’re 65 or older, you should strongly consider enrolling in Medicare if you haven’t already done so.
This is the case even if you’re covered under the VA Medical Benefits Package. Medicare will bolster your VA coverage, and enrollment in Medicare will not reduce any of your VA benefits.
If you’re under 65 and disabled, you strongly consider applying for Social Security Disability Insurance if you haven’t already done so.
This is true even if you’re covered under the VA Medical Benefits Package. Qualifying for disability benefits will automatically enroll you in Medicare. Medicare will bolster your VA coverage, and enrollment in Medicare will not reduce any of your VA benefits.
Why Medicare and VA benefits?
- VA benefit funds vary from year to year. Medicare is a great backup in case of VA benefit reductions.
- Being covered under Medicare and VA gives you greater flexibility when it comes to managing your healthcare.
- Medicare coverage doesn’t affect your VA benefits in any way, and vice versa. You will have the full coverage both programs provide.
- Medicare doesn’t limit you to treatment at VA facilities, thereby increasing your options greatly.
- Enrollment in Medicare can greatly reduce your waiting time for treatment and services.
If you’re covered under VA and Medicare, you don’t need to use your coverage under both programs. You can use one or the other exclusively, if you wish. However:
• You’ll need to visit VA facilities to receive VA benefits
• VA doesn’t pay any Medicare costs, and vice versa
• Even if you choose not to use your Medicare coverage, you’ll still have to pay your monthly Medicare premiums.
How much are Medicare premiums?
Fewer than 2% of Medicare beneficiaries pay any premium at all for Medicare Part A. The vast majority already paid for Part A coverage over the course of their working years. Unless you haven’t paid into the system over a period of 10 working years, you’re not likely to have to pay a Part A premium.
Most beneficiaries currently pay $104.90 monthly for Medicare Part B coverage. Part B coverage is optional, and you may decide it isn’t worth the expense.
If you opt out of Part B but decide to enroll later, in most cases you’ll have to pay a penalty of 10% of your Part B premium for every 12-month period you could have had Part B coverage but did not. This penalty will apply as long as you remain on Medicare. There are exceptions to this penalty obligation, but most late enrollees in Medicare Part B pay dearly for the delay. If you opt out of Part B, future opportunities to enroll will be limited to regular annual enrollment periods.