En español | If you have VA coverage and are eligible for Medicare, you’re not required to enroll in Part B, but you may have good reasons to do so. The VA itself strongly recommends that all veterans with VA health care also enroll in Medicare Parts A and B as soon as they become eligible (unless they have group insurance from a current employer). Here’s why:
Your VA prescription drug coverage is much better and less expensive than Medicare’s, so you don’t need to join a Part D drug plan, and you won’t be hit with Part D late enrollment penalties if you lose VA coverage in the future, provided that you sign up with a Part D drug plan within two months of that coverage ending. If you have both VA and Part D drug coverage, you have the flexibility of using one or the other. This would allow you to get prescriptions from non-VA doctors and fill them at local retail pharmacies; obtain medications that the VA doesn’t cover; and apply for low-cost drug coverage under Part D’s Extra Help program if your income is under a certain level.
The Medicare and VA systems are entirely separate, with no coordination of benefits between them. You would use your VA identity card at VA facilities and your Medicare ID card anywhere else; then the bills would go either to the VA or to Medicare for payment.
For more information on the VA health care system, go to the VA website at https://www.va.gov/health/.