Many people assume that United States military veterans have health coverage. While this is true for many, an alarming number of our warriors do not.
A recent study concluded that nearly 2 million U.S. veterans do not have health coverage. The 3.8 million additional people that belong to their household also do not have coverage. Of this group, 87.3% are over the age of 65.
The good news is that there are a lot of health coverage options for veterans. Many former servicemembers carry health insurance through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Medicare is also a choice for veterans’ health care.
Read on to learn how veterans can take advantage of free healthcare. Explore topics such as healthcare for veterans and VA benefits.
What Coverage Is Offered by the VA?
The VA is one of the largest healthcare providers in the world. They provide healthcare to more than 9 million American veterans.
The VA boasts an impressive infrastructure with medical facilities and outpatient locations. In total, they have 171 medical facilities across the country. In addition, there are more than 1,100 outpatient facilities.
VA medical facilities are designed to provide for all of your healthcare needs. They are capable of performing complex surgeries and providing critical care. The VA has radiology services, can fill your prescription, and even supports mental health.
The VA employs thousands of medical specialists. They deal with all specialties including urology, oncology, dermatology, and more. The VA even provides dental and vision care to its eligible members.
When you start receiving VA benefits, the Department asks you to select a preferred facility. This is where you receive primary care. It is important to select a location that is close to where you live and convenient to attend.
You are not required to exclusively use VA facilities. However, there may be a member responsibility when you seek care outside the VA.
There are cases in which the VA cannot give you the care you need. In these instances, officials will decide whether care is medically necessary before providing financial coverage.
Who Is Eligible for VA Benefits?
A key eligibility requirement for veterans is serving in the military. This means serving active duty in the military, air service, or naval forces. Another requirement is enlisting in one of these services after September 7th, 1980.
If you received a dishonorable discharge, you are not eligible for veterans’ healthcare. Instead, VA officials are looking for at least 24 months of consecutive service.
If you do not meet the 24-month threshold, you may still be eligible. Benefits are extended to those that suffered a disability during their service. Another possibility is if you had an existing disability that was made worse by your service.
Some Vietnam veterans are eligible for benefits depending on where and when they served. Current or former members of the National Guard or Reserves may also be eligible. In order to qualify, Guardsmen and Reservists must have been called to active duty and served their entire mission.
What Is Medicare?
Medicare is an entitlement program that all Americans pay into. As soon as you start working, you will notice deductions on your paystub for Medicare. These are referred to as payroll taxes.
These payroll taxes fund a federal health insurance plan for America’s elderly population. All Americans are eligible for Medicare when they turn 65 years old. It is also possible for younger Americans to get Medicare if they have disabilities.
Medicare is different than veterans’ healthcare because recipients are using it like a private insurance plan. You can go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare.
The government negotiates contracted rates for medical services, tests, and procedures. Medicare recipients are then responsible for whatever part of the bill it does not cover.
There are several different parts of Medicare. Part A under the Medicare system covers hospital insurance.
Part A covers medical services provided at a hospital, hospice, or nursing facility. For most Americans, Medicare Part A does not require payment of a monthly insurance premium.
You may be wondering what happens when you need to see a primary care physician or a specialist. Medicare Part B is the right coverage for that. Unlike Part A, this coverage requires payment of a monthly premium.
Part D is the final tenant of the Medicare system. It provides for a prescription drug benefit.
In order to get Medicare Part D, you need to buy a separate insurance plan. This is often referred to as Medicare Advantage or Part C.
The benefit of doing this is locking in Medicare-negotiated rates for prescription drugs. You also get a guarantee that certain generic or brand-name drugs are covered.
For many people, Medicare alone is not enough coverage. Americans with lower incomes may be eligible for Medicaid coverage as well.
Those with middle to high incomes tend to buy additional coverage. The good news for veterans is that they can bundle their VA coverage with Medicare.
Are Veterans Eligible for Medicare?
Like all Americans over the age of 65, U.S. veterans are eligible for Medicare benefits. Combining your VA and Medicare benefits is a smart choice to reduce total healthcare expenses.
Many people question why Medicare is necessary if VA benefits are free. The answer is straightforward and is based on the type of care you are seeking.
Veterans’ benefits are received at a VA facility or outpatient location most of the time. If you want to see your favorite private doctor or get a second opinion, you may need to pay for it.
This is where having Medicare plans comes in handy. Medicare can give financial aid when the VA denies coverage.
Your Guide to Veterans’ Health Care and Medicare
You now understand the basics of healthcare for veterans. The VA is an invaluable resource for our nation’s warriors.
In some cases, VA coverage is not enough. Medicare is a practical alternative in these cases. If you want to learn more about veterans’ health care, contact us today to receive additional education.