Do you need all four parts of Medicare for TRICARE for life?

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By TRICARE Communications and Raymond Taylor | Archuleta County Veterans Service Office

Do you have Medicare, or will you soon be eligible to enroll? Medicare has four parts: A, B, C and D. It’s important that you understand how each part differs and which parts you’ll need for TRICARE For Life (TFL).

 TFL provides secondary coverage to Medicare, which is known as Medicare-wraparound coverage. TFL is an individual entitlement. This means it’s only available to military retirees and their eligible family members who qualify for Medicare. TRICARE enrollments for family members who aren’t eligible for Medicare remain the same.

Here’s what you need to know about the parts of Medicare.

Medicare Part A: hospital insurance

You need Medicare Part A to have TFL coverage. Medicare Part A is hospital insurance funded through payroll taxes. It helps provide coverage for:

• Inpatient care in hospitals.

• Skilled nursing facility care.

• Some home health care.

• Hospice care.

Most people become eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A at age 65 if they worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years. If you aren’t eligible for Medicare Part A based on your own work history, you may be eligible based on your spouse’s work history. What if you aren’t eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A based on your own or your spouse’s work history? Check out the “TRICARE and Medicare: Turning Age 65 Brochure” for instructions on how to remain TRICARE eligible after you turn age 65.

Some people become eligible for Medicare before age 65 based on a disability or a health condition. Some qualifying conditions include end-stage renal disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Check out the “TRICARE and Medicare Under Age 65” brochure for instructions on how to remain TRICARE eligible when you become eligible for Medicare before age 65.

Medicare Part B: medical Insurance

You also need Medicare Part B to have TFL coverage. Medicare Part B is medical insurance funded through monthly premiums. It helps cover:

• Services from doctors and other health care providers.

• Outpatient care.

• Home health care.

• Durable medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, and hospital beds).

• Preventive services (screening, vaccines, and yearly wellness visits). 

As outlined in the “TRICARE and Medicare: Turning Age 65 Brochure,’ the Medicare Part B premium is based on your income and is taken from your monthly Social Security retirement or disability payment. If you aren’t receiving either of these payments, you’ll receive a bill every three months for your premiums.

Both Medicare Parts A and B make up Original Medicare. If you’re eligible for Medicare Part A, you must have Part B to have TFL coverage. This requirement doesn’t apply to active duty family members or to individuals who’ve been enrolled in the U.S. Family Health Plan continuously since Oct. 1, 2012.

“You should sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B when you’re first eligible, to avoid a break in your TRICARE coverage, or having to pay a penalty,” said Anne Breslin, TRICARE For Life program manager at the Defense Health Agency. “If you sign up for Medicare Part B after your Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to pay a late enrollment premium penalty for as long as you have Part B.”

For information on parts C and D, see next week’s “Veterans Corner.”

Grant allows Vets4Vets to help local veterans 

Vets4Vets of Archuleta County has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This financial grant is to support veterans in our community through the following assistance: housing, utilities, mental health counseling, dental services, travel assistance, automobile repairs, gas and food cards, and emergency veteran assistance. 

Contact Vets4Vets at https://vets4vetspsco.org/ or dharps@gmail.com.

Contact information

Veterans: Thank you for your service. Welcome home.

For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office (VSO), located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The office: (970) 264-4013, fax number: (970) 264-4014, and email is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. Bring your DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO. Always leave a message and phone number to contact you.

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Tennyson Building Event Center, 197 Navajo Trail Drive, on all but the first Tuesday. Breakfast meeting on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. Contact (970) 880-8387 for more details.

• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, Lewis Street. Contact Gary Hanneman at (970) 946-2540.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: first and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Carter’s office; contact Charlotte at (970) 903-9690.

Important information

• Vets4Vets: (970) 880-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: (970) 247-2214.

• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

• VA Health Care Emergency Notification: (844) 724-7842.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.