Navigating Medicare options for veterans

KBTX First News at Four(Recurring)
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 7:00 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan annual election period is now open leaving eligible Americans with an important choice.

The Medicare Annual Election period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. Read more about joining a health or drug plan here.

There are two main ways to get Medicare coverage--Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Learn more about Medicare coverage options here.

Original Medicare includes Hospital (Part A) and Medical (Part B) insurance. For drug coverage, a separate Drug plan (Part D) can be added. A Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy can also be added to help pay out-of-pocket costs.

Medicare Advantage Plan is an all-in-one alternative to Original Medicare. The bundled plans include Part A, Part B and usually Part D. Most plans offer extra benefits as well such as vision, hearing and dental. With Medicare Advantage, people receive coverage through a private insurer like Humana, Cigna or Aetna.

Star ratings are released every year by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help people make an informed decision when choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan or Drug plan (Part D).

Choosing a plan can be an especially overwhelming process for Veterans who are eligible and also need to consider other benefits they’re entitled to get. It’s possible to have both Medicare and Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, but the two are separate systems. VA health benefits provide coverage for care in VA clinics and hospitals but they generally don’t cover other facilities and doctors. Having both types of coverage can be helpful for someone who needs specialized care, who has a condition not connected to military service, or who wants to use non-VA providers.

JJ Montanaro, a Financial Planner with USAA, suggests to start with “comparing what you have and what you’re eligible for with really what you need and what you value.”

Stephanie Muckey, the Population Health Strategy Lead for Humana says, “the primary enemy that most veterans face after service is not war related trauma, but loneliness, and loneliness is a top predictor of depression and suicidal thoughts.”

So, plans with additional benefits to support mental health may be import for veterans.

Watch the full interview in the player above.