VA Medical Benefits, TriCare, and Medicare Explained - United Benefits

If you are a veteran, you may have access to VA Medical Benefits or Tricare, depending on the duration of your military service. Knowing how VA Medical Benefits and Tricare work with Medicare is very important. It’s just as important to know how each work with FEHB coverage and how you can obtain extra benefits without losing your VA Medical Benefits or Tricare.


Tricare is a regionally-managed health care program for active duty and retired members of the military and extends to their families and survivors. Tricare transitions to Tricare for Life once a member becomes eligible for Medicare benefits. Tricare requires members to take Medicare Part A and Part B in order to keep their Tricare for Life benefits. If a member opts to not take Medicare Part B, they will be dropped from their Tricare coverage.

Once a member has Medicare and Tricare, Medicare will become the primary payer. Tricare benefits will act as a supplement to Medicare and will pay Medicare deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. The Medicare and Tricare coordination is seamless and is very comprehensive health insurance.

If you are a federal employee and are going through the retirement process, you have the option to suspend your FEHB health insurance if you are eligible for Tricare benefits. In most cases, Tricare is significantly more affordable than FEHB plans. If you decide to suspend your FEHB plan, you are able to enroll in any FEHB plan during any open season in the future.

VA Medical Benefits

VA Medical Benefits are offered to anyone who served in the military and was not dishonorably discharged. Veterans are able to use all of the services at VA Medical Centers to receive medical care and prescription medications. The copays for non-service connected care are determined based on the veteran’s level of disability. A veteran who is classified as 100% disabled through the VA Medical system, will have no copays and will also have access to dental and vision as well as other services.

VA Medical Benefits are considered credible coverage for Part D Prescription Drug Coverage, so a veteran who uses the VA for care may not need to have a Part D Prescription Drug plan unless they need or want to have prescriptions filled at a local pharmacy. However, VA Medical Benefits are not considered credible coverage for Medicare Part B. Veterans who use the VA health system should strongly consider opting into Medicare Part B, even if they receive all of their care at the VA Medical Center. Part B provides for medical coverage. If a veteran decides to seek care outside of the VA or needs medical care not covered by the VA and does not have Medicare Part B, they have no medical coverage and will pay 100% of all charges incurred.

Extra Benefits

Whether a veteran is entitled to Tricare for Life or VA Medical Benefits, they are eligible for additional benefits at no cost. There are special Medicare Advantage plans that are specifically designed for veterans and will provide extra benefits not provided by Tricare or VA Medical Benefits. The first benefit is what is called a Part B reimbursement. Just enrolling in the plan will reimburse part of the Medicare Part B premium. This amount varies by state, but generally ranges from $50-$100 per month. This reimbursement will be added directly back to the veteran’s social security check or it will be a credit on their statement if they are not collecting social security. Additional benefits that are included in the plan are dental, vision, hearing, over-the-counter benefits, and gym memberships.

Learn More About Coordinating Benefits

If you have Medicare Part A and B and Tricare or VA Medical Benefits and would like to discuss how a Medicare Advantage Plan can provide you with extra benefits, get in touch. Our United Benefits Medicare Specialists are always available to meet with you one-on-one to ensure that you are maximizing your benefits.

Blog Form - Medicare