Veteran Benefits / TRICARE

This FAQ focuses on common questions asked by military personnel when they qualify for Medicare.

Veteran Benefits / TRICARE

Do Veterans need Medicare coverage?

Many veterans enroll in Medicare to avoid paying late enrollment penalties and having a broader group of doctors and facilities where they can get the care they need.

Veterans can use their VA benefits to plug gaps in Medicare coverage. However, note that Medicare and VA do not coordinate care so you may need to decide where to get what type of care.

Can I keep my VA Benefits and also enroll in Medicare?

Refer above.

What is TRICARE? How is it different from Veteran benefits?

TRICARE is a civilian health benefits program for military personnel and their dependents. It was formerly known as Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS).

Unlike VA Benefits, TRICARE coordinates coverage with Medicare. Medicare pays first. Obviously one has to be enrolled in Medicare for this to work.

Can I qualify for help/support programs even if I have veteran benefits/TRICARE?

Typically TRICARE or VA Benefits are qualifying coverage, meaning that States may view this as proof that you already have needed healthcare coverage and therefore do not qualify for healthcare-related assistance programs.

There may be other support programs for which you may qualify. These could either be State-sponsored or VA-sponsored.

Who pays first? VA, TRICARE or Medicare?

If you are receiving Veterans benefits and are enrolled in Medicare, Medicare pays for Medicare-covered services and Veterans’ Affairs pays VA-authorised services or items. They do not coordinate care.

If you are covered under TRICARE and are also enrolled in Medicare, they coordinate care. Medicare pays for the services it covers while TRICARE pays for services provided at a military hospital or by other federal providers.

Do I need to go only to Veterans hospitals or can I go to any Medicare facility?

If you are enrolled in Medicare, you may typically go to any Medicare-approved facility (for Medicare Parts A and B and Medicare Supplement) or any facility/doctor in your plan’s network (for private plans).


Click here to learn more about Medicare, its various Parts, different enrollment periods and your costs. 

We have also created videos to help you better understand various topics related to Medicare. Select and watch a video explaining the topic of your interest in a simple and intuitive manner.

Remember that you cannot choose just any combination of Parts and Plans. Let Lighted Road Insurance guide you step-by-step through the Medicare ecosystem and help you in selecting the right plan(s) for your needs.