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Vital Medicare Enrollment Tips for Veterans

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As a veteran, you probably have health coverage through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. So do you really need to look at Medicare enrollment in addition to your VA health benefits?

The short answer: It’s a good idea.
You’re not required to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B when you’re first eligible—usually at age 65, although it can be younger with a disability, end-stage renal disease (ERDS), or ALS. But there are a number of reasons why you may want to complete your Medicare enrollment and consider other Medicare plan options in addition to your VA coverage.

Avoid penalties

If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B when you’re initially eligible and decide you want to enroll later, you’ll be subject to lifelong fees that grow in proportion to the time you went without Medicare. You’ll have to do the math for your own situation, but additional fees every month for potentially 20-to-30 years can really add up!

Choose from a wider selection of doctors, hospitals, and other care providers

With a Medicare plan, you gain a whole network of covered healthcare providers beyond the VA system. You may be able to get appointments faster or just get a second opinion more easily.

Gain additional benefits

Beyond Medicare Parts A and B, you can enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans, which bundle Parts A and B but also typically offer additional benefits like vision, dental, hearing, fitness, wellness, and prescription drug coverage. Some of these plans have premiums that begin at $0, so you may be able to get these extra benefits—like Silver Sneakers—at no additional cost, while keeping your VA coverage. You’ll still have to pay your Medicare Part B premiums.

Expand your options and ease the cost

In addition to having more options when choosing a healthcare provider, requesting Medicare quotes and enrolling in a Medicare plan can give you more flexibility when it comes to prescriptions and may help with healthcare costs. With a Medicare Part D Plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage, you can get prescriptions from non-VA doctors and pharmacies. You may also be able to reduce your costs with the Medicare Extra Help program.

Get Help with Medicare Enrollment

You don’t have to make this decision alone. Call us to speak with a Medicare Advocate who can help you find Medicare plans in your area that are specifically tailored to your healthcare and financial needs. You’ll get a personal consultation at no cost to you. Call 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.

You can also find, compare, and enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans online through the Medicare Online Enrollment Portal. This online tool provides an easy way to research and enroll in plans when it’s convenient for you from the comfort of your home or anywhere with an Internet connection.