do i need a medicare supplement if i have VA benefits?
That’s a great question and a personal one that can only be answered by you. There are many people who along with Original Medicare have health benefits through Veterans Affairs. Some use VA benefits as to avoid the gaps in Medicare and the costs they would incur.
On the flip side, there are also many Veterans who recognize that those gaps can be covered through Medicare Supplement insurance.
You can have both
The good news is you can choose to have both VA benefits and Medicare Supplement insurance.
Here are some interesting points:
- VA cannot bill Original Medicare, but can bill Medicare Supplement insurance for a covered service.
- For Medicare coverage, you must receive care at a Medicare approved facility.
- For VA coverage, you must generally receive health care services at a VA facility.
Medicare and the VA are separate
Quite simply, Medicare and VA are separate entities. VA facilities are not Medicare approved providers. Beneficiaries usually use their VA benefits when they need help with health care items not approved by Medicare (hearing aids, over-the-counter medications).
Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance pays after Medicare pays. There are many types of Medigap Plans; but, they all help to pay for medical expenses not covered by Original Medicare, such as coinsurance and deductibles.
If you have Medicare Part A and B (Original Medicare), you may want to consider supplementing with a Medigap Plan and not relying exclusively on VA benefits or Original Medicare. One reason is location.
What if you travel?
If you travel, you will always need to know where the nearest VA facility is located…there is no guarantee there will be one near you. If you use your Original Medicare, you’ll be subjected to the bills Medicare doesn’t pay.
Adding Medicare Supplement insurance to your health care portfolio will make traveling easier.
Here are some examples
One of our dear family members is 70 years young. He served in the Navy and receives VA benefits. He visits the VA often…mainly for prescriptions drugs and hearing aids.
But his Florida Medicare Supplement plan has been invaluable for many years. Most recently he needed to see a dermatologist the day he was leaving for a cruise.
We were able to find him a Medicare approved doctor and get him an appointment that morning. The doctor billed Medicare and the Medicare Supplement Plan G paid the remainder of Medicare approved charges.
Another Veteran, Mr. M, is a client who has a Medigap Plan F in Kansas. He lives 200 miles from the nearest VA facility.
He takes a full day to drive to the VA center, have the appointment and drive home. In certain situations, Mr. M doesn’t mind making the trip if it’s for an item that Medicare doesn’t cover.
However, Mr. M likes having peace of mind about his healthcare coverage. With his Medicare Supplement insurance, he’s able to stay in town and visit any Medicare approved doctor, hospital, or specialist he desires.
Quality of care
Perhaps you have a conveniently located VA hospital, but it’s quality of care is not the highest compared to other hospitals in your area. Medicare is a back up option, but it still has gaps in coverage.
Medicare Supplement insurance is designed to fill those gaps. It provides peace of mind knowing that your medical needs are being attended to and your bills are being paid by the insurance company.
In a recent phone conversation with a gentleman in South Carolina, he shared with me how he was given a different primary doctor at the VA facility where he’s been going for years. His other physician was still there; someone just decided to change his doctor. He was not thrilled with the idea that someone else made this decision for him.
He wanted some information on a Medicare Supplement plan so he could have more control over his health care and choose which Medicare doctor he wanted to see.
Our veterans are often unaware of all the benefits available to them. You can choose to have Medicare Supplement insurance with your VA benefits. The ability to use your benefits with Veterans Affairs can sometimes be limited based on location, quality of care and appointment availability.
Often times, Medicare Beneficiaries will opt to purchase Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance to help fill in the gaps that Original Medicare doesn’t pay. This helps broaden their ability to have more control over their own health care needs.
Medigap plans come with a monthly premium that you pay to the insurance company. As a Medicare recipient, you are entitled to find a lower premium for the same Medigap Plan at anytime throughout the year (medical underwriting may be required).
This is often best done through an independent insurance agent who has access to multiple insurance companies and their rates. Please call me (1-888-411-1329) if you have any questions about your VA benefits and Medicare Supplement. I look forward to speaking with you. Thank you for reading our post, Do I Need a Medicare Supplement If I Have VA Benefits. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Joann Quinn is the Chief Compliance Officer and Cofounder of REMEDIGAP. She is a licensed Medicare agent in 47 states. Her main role is to provide essential resources and tools to educate eligible individuals on Medicare. Joann provides helpful Medicare education to thousands of viewers with our popular REMEDIGAP YouTube channel. With expertise in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D, Joann is a highly knowledgeable and sought after Medicare insurance professional.