In the work I do with people who receive VA benefits and are also eligible for Medicare Part B, I am often asked if they should enroll in Part B. “After all, it costs $99.90 a month (current rate), and if I have VA healthcare benefits and use the VA hospital system, do I really need it?” I am asked.
And the answer is, “No, you don’t have to, but” (and this is where the list starts):
- If you ever use medical services outside the VA system, Medicare Part B will help you cover those costs. VA covers services within the VA system.
- Delaying your initial enrollment for Medicare Part B can cost you in penalties. Monthly premiums increase 10 percent for each 12-month period a person is eligible but did not enroll. The longer one waits, the higher the premium gets.
- If the monthly premium for Medicare Part B is beyond your budget, you might want to look into your state’s Medicare Savings Program.
Two good phone numbers to have are Social Security: 1-800-772-1213, and VA Health Benefits: 1-877-222-8387. Representatives at these numbers can be very helpful in sorting through these questions.