Medical coverage through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allows you to save on healthcare costs when you visit a VA facility. Medicare coverage, on the other hand, allows you to get coverage at any facility that accepts Medicare. If you have VA benefits, adding a Medicare Advantage plan may be the best way to expand your coverage beyond its limits.
When you add Medicare Advantage to your VA coverage, multiple healthcare providers and facilities become available to you. You’re not limited to facilities that accept VA coverage. This broader coverage gives you more autonomy over the providers you choose. This is still true for Medicare Advantage plans with provider networks.
Medicare Advantage is comprehensive, as it provides inpatient and outpatient coverage, as well as coverage for prescription medications in some plans. Your inpatient coverage applies whenever you’re admitted to a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or hospice center. Outpatient care includes preventive services, as well as ambulance services and durable medical equipment.
Another reason for getting Medicare Advantage is its dental, vision, and hearing benefits. This coverage is absent from traditional Medicare plans. And Medicare Advantage also features wellness plans and gym memberships as part of its coverage.
This is a rare instance in which you can simultaneously have Medicare Advantage and another health insurance plan. Normally, individuals have to decide between Medicare Advantage and another form of health insurance.
Part of the reason why this works is because the coverage isn’t coordinated, meaning that the coverages do not overlap. When you go to a VA facility, only your VA coverage will apply. When you go to a non-VA facility, only your Medicare Advantage plan will be accepted. You only get the coverage of one at a time. Neither functions as a form of supplemental coverage.
The specifics of how your Medicare Advantage plan works depends on the insurer and the type of Medicare Advantage plan you choose. Medicare Advantage comes in many shapes and sizes – a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan allows you to save more by seeing specific providers, whereas a Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) plan sets your treatment costs at a fixed rate ahead of time. You may also opt for a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) to have a special savings account to help pay for your medical treatments. These are just a few of the options you have when attaching a Medicare Advantage plan to your VA coverage.