If you have Veterans Affairs (VA) health coverage, you are not required to enroll in Medicare–but it may be a good idea to do so. Signing up for Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, will give you broader coverage when it comes to the doctors, hospitals, and providers you can use. If you ever need to use a non-VA hospital, you’ll have more options available. Even in emergencies, you may be limited in what your VA benefits will cover. You may have to foot the bill for some costs if you use a non-VA provider.

You can enroll in Medicare and still keep your veterans’ benefits. Medicare has a process to decide which insurance will pay first.

In addition, if you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period and decide to join later, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for not signing up when you were first eligible. This penalty is a permanent 10 percent higher premium for every 12-month period that you were eligible for Medicare Part B, but didn’t enroll.  For example, if you enroll in Medicare Part B 24 months after you were first eligible, you may have to pay a 20% penalty.

Ultimately, Medicare coverage may be a good way to broaden your current benefits, especially if there’s a chance that you could lose your veterans benefits down the line. Many Medicare Advantage plans, a private version of Medicare, offer other benefits beyond what Original Medicare covers, such as routine vision and dental. If you’d like more information about how your VA benefits would work with Medicare, I can help. You can take a look at my profile below to learn more about my experience helping people with Medicare. Then, if you’d like to speak one-on-one, just use the links below to set up a phone call or have me email you some Medicare coverage options. To start viewing plans right away, use the Compare Plans buttons on this page to browse what’s available in your area.