The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest integrated healthcare system, serving 9 million enrolled veterans each year.2 But members of the military pay Social Security payroll taxes, so they may qualify for Medicare coverage, as well.
Choosing between VA benefits and Medicare is not an either/or choice. You can have both. If you qualify for veterans’ healthcare benefits and you choose to enroll in Medicare as well, you can get treatment under either program. But you’ll need to decide which benefits program you want to use before receiving care.
Here are some things to consider as you explore your options.
If you worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years, you’re eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A. Part A helps provide hospital coverage, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care and home healthcare.
For 2021, the standard premium for Medicare Part B, which helps cover outpatient care and durable medical equipment, among other services, is $148.50.
Many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage. These are called MAPD plans and they give you the option of filling covered prescriptions at your local pharmacy instead of through the VA system.
Most Medicare Advantage plans also include coverage for eyeglasses, hearing aids and dental care.
The VA health system provides care for millions of veterans each year at its 1,255 facilities, including 170 medical centers and more than 1,000 outpatient sites across the country.3 However, it generally doesn’t cover care outside of those locations. If your nearest VA facility isn’t convenient to you, a Medicare Advantage plan may help you access care closer to home.
A Medicare Advantage plan offers options. You can see in-network doctors and hospitals that may be closer to home. And if you’re dealing with a serious or confusing healthcare issue, you can get a second opinion from a doctor outside the VA system.