Medicare Advantage for veterans may not seem imperative for retirees who have Veterans Affairs (VA) or TRICARE health coverage. But it could be more advantageous than you think. While some healthcare coverage can be restrictive, this is more cooperative. With the help of an experienced Medicare agent, you can integrate Medicare Advantage with VA and TRICARE health coverage.
Medicare Advantage and VA Merger
The VA urges you to have Original Medicare so that you can get a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan. MA plans include the same basic coverages but have additional benefits that aren’t supported by Original Medicare. This mix of Medicare Advantage and VA can help you in several ways:
- VA facilities may have long wait times.
- MA plans cover all your needs in one convenient plan.
- It also covers you when you’re traveling abroad.
- MA plans place an out-of-pocket cap on your healthcare, which Original Medicare doesn’t do.
Know that eligibility for VA health coverage may change. It’s not guaranteed.
Medicare Advantage Benefits
Medicare requires MA plans to offer the benefits that Original Medicare offers, such as surgery, lab tests, inpatient hospital care, home health care, etc. However, MA plans can provide additional benefits, like:
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Adult day-care services
- Fitness memberships
- Nutrition and wellness programs
- Transportation to doctor’s offices
- Dental, hearing, and vision
- And more
Your eligibility for these benefits will differ, depending on your area and plan providers.
When to Enroll in Medicare Advantage for Veterans
There are appointed times for when you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan:
Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP)
ICEP is your first chance to select a Medicare health plan. This seven-month period begins three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. If you’re under 65 and you get Social Security disability, you’re eligible for Medicare in the 25th month after you start receiving your Social Security benefits.
Annual Election Period (AEP)
The AEP, aka open enrollment, runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. Once January comes, coverage for your chosen Medicare Advantage plan will ensue. During the AEP, you can also add, switch, or drop current coverage.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
During this time, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan if you wish. Or, you can cancel your plan to return to Original Medicare.
Special Election Period
Many things can spur a special election period and they’re specific to an individual. You should speak with a licensed Medicare insurance agent to see if you qualify. There are a few common scenarios, like if you move out of state, move into a nursing home, or qualify for additional aid, you may be eligible for this special election period. You can implement changes to your Medicare Advantage plan during this period or revert back to Original Medicare.
Do you have questions about Medicare Advantage for Veterans? Call (316) 260-3331 to speak with a Medicare expert at Cornerstone Senior Advisors.