Since 1965 — the year Medicare was established — all military retirees ages 65 and older have been required to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B . While military retirees do have to pay Medicare premiums ($170.10 per month for Part B on average in 2022), they’ll also be automatically enrolled in TRICARE for Life — a no-cost insurance package that can pay for gaps left by Original Medicare coverage.
Of course, military retirees under age 65 can still enroll in Medicare if they are disabled veterans. Retirees who have collected Social Security disability benefits for 24 months become eligible to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. They may also be eligible for Medicare if they have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), a kidney transplant or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
What Is TRICARE for Life?
When someone retires from the military, a government-sponsored program called TRICARE can help cover their health care needs. TRICARE for Life covers military retirees until they turn 65, at which point they become eligible for Medicare.
As we know, Medicare doesn’t cover 100% of a beneficiary’s health care needs. Fortunately for military retirees 65 and older, can purchase TRICARE for Life vas a Medicare supplement.
Original Medicare usually does not cover travel outside the U.S. However, TRICARE for Life is your primary payer for foreign travel coverage.
A military retiree with TRICARE should plan to enroll in Medicare three months before they turn 65 or defer coverage to avoid paying penalties later on. Once enrolled in TRICARE for Life, beneficiaries can continue using TRICARE pharmacy services.
Can I Keep Using VA Benefits With Medicare?
A military retiree nearing age 65 might wonder whether they can continue to use their Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits alongside Medicare. The answer is "yes," and it can even be beneficial to have both forms of coverage.
While Medicare before 65 isn’t mandatory, the coverage your VA benefits provide may not pay for everything. The same goes for Medicare coverage, so it can come in handy to have both if you’re eligible for VA benefits, as well.
Veterans use VA benefits when receiving care at a VA hospital or facility. If receiving care at a Medicare-certified facility, Medicare can pay. However, it’s important to note that Medicare doesn’t pay for care from a VA facility, and VA benefits won’t pay secondary to Medicare.
Having both VA and Medicare benefits gives a military retiree access to many more eligible doctors and facilities.
Military retirees turning 65 can visit SeniorHealthcareDirect.com to learn how to apply for Medicare or discover how they can defer Medicare enrollment to avoid late enrollment penalties. They can also call Senior Healthcare Direct at 1-833-463-3262, TTY 711 to speak with a licensed agent or get a quote.