How Medicare and TRICARE work together to provide affordable access healthcare for retired veterans and their families

If you’re a US Veteran, it’s likely you’ve heard of TRICARE and Medicare—but many people are unaware of their details, including how eligibility works and what the costs are for each program.

Generally speaking, if you’re 65 or older and either a US veteran or a spouse of a US veteran, then you’re eligible for both Medicare and TRICARE for Life (TFL).  

Medicare is the affordable health insurance option for Americans over 65. TRICARE for Life is a type of TRICARE plan that is only available to Medicare beneficiaries. Together, they provide veterans over 65 with affordable health insurance. The two programs also extend to veterans with certain disabilities or medical conditions as well as the families of those directly eligible. 

Medicare-eligible veterans are also eligible for TFL as a secondary coverage option. You can think of it as reinforcement for your Medicare coverage. Once Medicare has paid for Medicare-covered services, your claims will be sent to TRICARE for Life, and any money owed for TRICARE-covered services will be paid. 

Now, let’s dive into the details of eligibility and costs to understand how Medicare and TRICARE work together to provide quality, affordable care for US veterans. 

Who is eligible for Medicare and TRICARE for Life?

Medicare eligibility is determined primarily by age. At 65, Americans are eligible to receive Medicare. Some younger Americans are also eligible due to certain disabilities or health conditions. 

If you or a family member have served in the military and belong to one of the following groups, then you’re eligible for TRICARE:

  • Uniformed service members and their families

  • National Guard/Reserve members and their families

  • Survivors

  • Former spouses

  • Medal of Honor recipients and their families

  • Others registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)

If you’re eligible for TRICARE and have both Medicare Part A and Part B (or Medicare Advantage), then you’re eligible for TRICARE for Life. 

How much do Medicare and TRICARE for Life cost?

TRICARE for Life doesn’t have any enrollment or premium fees, but you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B—either through Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage—to be eligible. 

Medicare Part A is free for most Americans, including veterans and their spouses. Medicare Part B premiums vary by income, but most people pay the standard amount of $170.10/mo (as of 2022). If you’re on a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll have to pay your Part B premium, in addition to any premiums set by the plan you choose. Many (but not all) Medicare Advantage plans have $0 premiums, and some also have Part B Give Premium Reductions that enable you to save on premiums. 

TRICARE for Life complements Medicare. Together, they can significantly reduce your healthcare expenses because TFL may pick up the costs left behind by Medicare, reducing or eliminating what you pay out of pocket. 

Navigating Medicare doesn’t always come easy, and being eligible for TRICARE for Life might make a difference in which plan is right for you. If you have any questions about Medicare coverage and TRICARE, give us a call today to speak with one of our licensed Advisors.

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