Do I need Medicare Part B if I am 100% service connected disabled?

Jim's Mailbag

Question

I have a 100% service connected disability. Do I need Medicare Part B?

What if I have to take an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital am I covered under the choice program if I show them my card?

Jim's Reply

Your question is complex and probably has a dozen good answers.

So...it depends. I elect Part B for myself because my civilian doctor is 5 minutes away, my VA doctor is 2 hours from me. I like my VA doc, just not that much. I've not tried to use the Choice Program but since it's been a huge failure, I wouldn't rely on that. You have to balance your finances to your need for convenience. If you can deal with VA, don't take B. Keep in mind that if you change your mind down the road that there are penalties and B will get much more expensive for you.

I'm happy I took it, others may never use it.

I've found Part B as very affordable for the copays for office visits and specialty treatments like x-rays, colonoscopies and so on. I do not have a supplemental policy, I pay out of pocket copays...in the long run it's cheaper that way. I do not take Part D (pharmacy) because the VA system is pretty good. I can transmit any civilian prescriptions to my VA doc and he gets them in the system.

The use of an emergency room is up for grabs this year. VA hasn't been playing by the rules and they've been spanked and are trying to catch up. During this time a lot of vets have been turned over to collections and are having a hard time. You should be covered, you may not be. Use caution unless you really need that ER visit.

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