Vets’ benefits: Medicare versus VA

For military veterans who are approaching Medicare eligibility or are new to Medicare, it might be confusing to know the difference between your VA benefits and Medicare benefits. Let’s set the record straight on four common misperceptions about veterans and Medicare.

Myth 1: My health coverage is covered by the VA, so I don’t need Medicare.

Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan may be a good supplement to VA benefits, as it may help ensure that there aren’t any gaps in your healthcare coverage. Medicare and VA benefits are separate and don’t work together. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, it may provide Medicare-eligible veterans with additional services and location options, as well as prescription drug coverage.

Myth 2: All parts of Medicare are the same.

Medicare options vary. For example, Medicare Part A helps cover inpatient hospital and skilled nursing home care, limited home health services, and hospice. Medicare Part B helps cover services from doctors and other healthcare providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, as well as many preventative services. With Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, all the benefits under Part A and B are covered through a private insurer, who may also include additional benefits such as fitness center memberships, a nurse advice hotline, and dental, hearing and vision coverage. Finally, Medicare Part D helps cover prescription drugs.

Myth 3: There is no way to save money on health care plans.

There are ways to save money when choosing a Medicare plan, such as considering the total value of the Medicare plan you select along with your health, medical and budget needs for the coming year.

Myth 4: I’m on my own.

Licensed insurance agents with Medicare expertise can help you select the coverage that best meets your needs. Let them know if you’re eligible for VA health care or a TRICARE for Life member, and if your spouse is eligible for CHAMPVA healthcare, as those details will help determine the best options for you.

For more information about Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or TTY 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, or visit or


Catherine Field, who wrote this article, is president of Humana’s intermountain region, which includes Washington.