Do disabled veterans need Medicare?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Do veterans who are disable due to their service need Medicare Part B?

Expert Answer

A veteran who is eligible for both VA medical benefits and Medicare may enroll in both programs and receive benefits from both. For any specific medical treatment or service, however, a veteran enrolled in both programs has to choose one or the other. Whether you need Medicare Part B as well as veterans health benefits depends on how you would answer the following questions:

1. Do you feel that the care you receive through the VA is complete and satisfactory? If so, you may not need to use Medicare Part B, and so there is little or no point in paying the monthly premium for Medicare Part B coverage. But if you are not completely satisfied with the care you receive through the VA -- for example, in your choice of doctors, or in the time you have to wait to receive care -- then paying for Medicare Part B coverage might sometimes provide you with more satisfactory care.

2. Are you regularly left with bills to pay despite VA coverage? Some veterans have to pay a copayment for medical care through the VA. If you have a VA copayment, Medicare Part B might be able to pay all or part of that copayment if you receive VA-authorized care from a doctor or facility that is not actually part of the VA system. The higher your monthly copayments for services that Medicare Part B might help with, the more sense it makes to enroll in Medicare Part B.

3. How well can you afford the monthly Medicare Part B premium of $96.40? If you are receiving adequate but not completely satisfactory care through the VA, and you have only very small VA copayments, then the question of whether you want the extra coverage of Medicare Part B depends on whether the monthly Part B premium is worth the greater choice of providers you would have if you also were enrolled in Medicare Part B.