Medicare Enrollment- What Veterans Need to Know

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With the Medicare General Enrollment and Open Enrollment periods in full swing from January 1st to March 31st, we connected with Sidney Cullen Wright, COL (RET), USA Mid Atlantic and National Veterans Initiative Director at Advocate Health Advisors to discuss what Veterans need to know in order to ensure they get enrolled in the best healthcare plan possible. 

Here’s what he had to say.

Do you need Medicare if you have Veteran’s healthcare? Can you have both? Please explain. 

“Yes, we recommend Veterans, and all seniors activate their part B when eligible so they can have Medicare, more specifically a Medicare Advantage plan in most circumstances, working in conjunction with their military benefits. Neither of these systems has every component that the other has, and the sum of the whole of the combination of these two systems is truly greater than the parts individually.”



What are some important factors to consider for Veterans when enrolling in Medicare Advantage Plans?

“One of the most important factors for a Veteran, or a Veteran’s spouse, to consider is making sure they’re properly using their military benefits to the greatest extent possible. Once that has been assessed, look for an agent who’s local, licensed, and certified in a Veterans Initiative program, who can look, and see where there are gaps or shortfalls.

We’ve found there are many Medicare Advantage plans available as a great puzzle piece to fill those VA benefit gaps. It’s a good idea to work with a qualified and experienced agent who can look out for duplicate coverages and over-coverages which can be costly and do not contribute to the Veteran’s or the Veteran’s spouse’s overall health care.”

Do Veterans have any special benefits through Medicare?

“Yes, many Medicare Advantage plans have been developed with Veterans in mind. As an example, some Medicare Advantage plans do not include prescription drug coverage which a Veteran or their spouse may get through one of the military benefit sources. These Medicare Advantage plans are often rich with benefits due to the savings that can be realized by not offering the prescription drugs that Veterans can get from other sources.

In addition, the Center for Medicaid, and Medicare Services (CMS) has given a special enrollment period to Veterans and their spouses who have a particular type of prescription drug coverage that’s just as good or better than Medicare-based coverage. This allows them to change plans under certain special circumstances throughout the year.”

Anything else Veterans need to know?

“My experience has been that there are many wonderful insurance agents across the country. I find, however, that it is extremely rare to find a local and licensed agent that is well-versed in military benefits such as VA, CHAMPVA, and Tricare.

Advocate Health Advisors, as Veteran owned and operated, has embraced a supportive National Veteran’s Initiative that is truly a passion in our organization. We go to great lengths to make sure we maintain proficiency across all military healthcare benefits systems, as well as Medicare, to ensure our Veterans and their eligible spouses receive a well-rounded healthcare plan comprised of several sources available to them.”

The Bottom Line

Medicare can be tricky, it’s a good idea to educate yourself through reliable sources like www.medicare.gov and www.cms.gov to understand its evolving intricacies. Additionally, working with a reputable, licensed agent can help to ensure you and your loved ones get access to the best plan possible to suit your healthcare needs.

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