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. Parts A and B were covered in last week’s column.

The other two Medicare parts (C and D) are optional. You don’t need them to have TFL.

Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage

Medicare Part C refers to Medicare Advantage plans. This is optional coverage offered by private companies that contract with Medicare. A Medicare Advantage plan must cover Medicare Part A and Part B services. These plans may offer you additional benefits not covered by Medicare or TRICARE. And, about half of the Medicare Advantage plans include Medicare Part D drug coverage.

Considering enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan? You should be aware of the following: You may pay a monthly plan premium, plus your Medicare Part B premium. You’ll also have to pay copayments at the time of service. This means you’ll have to file a claim with TFL to be reimbursed for any copayments. TRICARE can reimburse you for copayments for TRICARE-covered services. You must also get health care services from the Medicare Advantage plan’s network of providers, with the exception of emergency services.

Medicare Part D: Prescription drug coverage

Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drugs. However, you don’t need Medicare Part D. TFL beneficiaries remain eligible for the TRICARE Pharmacy Program. This means you still have the same pharmacy options to fill your covered prescriptions.

If you sign up for Medicare Part D, it’s important to remember that Part D has a monthly premium which varies depending on which plan you choose. Medicare Part D coverage and costs can change each year, so it’s important to review your options annually. If you get Medicare Part D, it would be the primary payer for your prescription medication and the TRICARE Pharmacy Program would be the last payer for all TRICARE-covered prescription drugs.

You have different options for your Medicare coverage. But remember, you only need Medicare Part A and Part B to have TFL coverage. 

You can learn more about TFL eligibility and the four parts of Medicare by checking out “Becoming Medicare-Eligible” on the TRICARE website.

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.