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En español | If you have coverage through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and are eligible for Medicare, you’re not required to enroll. But you may have good reasons to do so. The VA itself strongly recommends that 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).
When it comes to drug coverage, there is less downside to putting off Medicare. VA coverage for prescriptions is typically less expensive than Medicare Part D drug plans, and you won’t be hit with late penalties if you lose VA coverage in the future, provided that you sign up with a Part D plan within two months of that coverage ending.
However, 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 (rather than relying solely on the VA's mail-order service) and to obtain medications the VA doesn’t cover. You can 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 card anywhere else. You'll find more information at the VA website on how VA care works with other insurance.
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