Medicare choices for vets with VA coverage who turn 65

If you are satisfied with your VA health benefits and the quality of care you receive, you may be able to avoid getting Medicare, and you can stay on VA for the rest of your life. I urge you to confirm this with the VA, as there are differences in the comprehensiveness of VA coverage depending on the specifics of your military service.

If you qualify for Tricare for Life, which is an insurance program for service veterans, you would need Medicare when you turn 65.

If you do not get Medicare and later change your mind, you would face late-enrollment penalties that would add 10 percent a year to Medicare Part B premiums for each year you are “late” in enrolling.

If you do get Medicare, you do not need to get a private insurance product but can simply get Part A for hospital coverage and Part B for doctors, outpatient, and durable medical equipment.

However, Part B only pays 80 percent of covered expenses. Check with the VA to see how well it fills this gap or if you should explore getting a private Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medigap supplement plan. You also could get a Part D drug plan but VA drug coverage is quite good, making a separate Part D plan unnecessary.

As always, confirm your prospective insurance coverage before making any changes.