Older members of the military, veterans and military retirees may be eligible for TRICARE, which is the health care program of the United States Department of Defense’s Military Health System.
Americans who are over 65 years old or who have a qualifying disability are eligible for Medicare, the federal health insurance program. But if a person is eligible for TRICARE, can they also receive Medicare benefits and vice versa?
The short answer is yes, you can have Medicare and TRICARE for health coverage. This guide will help you learn more about how these forms of health insurance can work together.
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TRICARE For Life (TFL) is TRICARE’s optional health plan that is designed for military members and retirees who are also Medicare beneficiaries.
In the U.S. and U.S. territories, Medicare serves as the primary coverage for people enrolled in both programs, and TRICARE offers secondary coverage.
This means that Medicare will receive your medical bill first and pay its share of qualified medical costs before forwarding the remaining charges to TRICARE. TRICARE then pays the remainder of covered services. In some cases, you may be left with no out-of-pocket expenses for qualified care.
If you receive care in locations outside of the U.S. and U.S. territories, TRICARE becomes the primary payer, and Medicare offers secondary coverage. The process outlined above then works in reverse order, with Medicare covering any qualified costs after TRICARE has paid its share.
In all cases, TRICARE acts as the primary payer for any services that Medicare does not cover, as long as TRICARE provides coverage for that service.
Under TRICARE For Life, you may receive care from each of the following health care providers:
Below is how TRICARE For Life works with other types of Medicare.
In order to enroll in TRICARE For Life, you must be eligible for and enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B and be eligible for TRICARE.
TRICARE eligibility is available to:
There is no cost to join TRICARE For Life or to maintain coverage. You will, however, have to pay your monthly premium for Medicare Part B.
For information about Medicare eligibility, benefits and the Medicare Advantage plan options available in your area, speak with a licensed insurance agent by calling TTY Users: 711 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
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