Should my spouse use CHAMPVA?


Hi Jim,  I would love to connect with the person who wanted to get his wife involved with CHAMPVA. I am in a similar situation as a 100% service-connected disabled veteran receiving all my medical services through the VA and highly respecting all those who have helped me in the VA network. My wife as a retiree from the post office pays an exorbitant amount for her retirement medical protection. She only has Medicare part A and Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal. I have been told that if she picks up part B, it would be better financially for us. I think I should drop myself from her insurance because I think I could save her half of what she pays if I do and pick up part B of Medicare. Is it possible that you can send my email address to that person to see if they did take CHAMPVA and what they think of it? I think if my wife felt that others used it and liked it,  she would be more inclined to drop her policy. Any assistance you can give me in making this happen I would sincerely appreciate.

Jim's Reply:

Rather than connecting you with a stranger, I'll share my own (my wife's) experience with CHAMPVA. My wife and I were in a similar situation years ago. First up, it sounds as if you're way over-insured and I can imagine that costs you a fortune. If you are rated 100% and reasonably happy with the care you receive from VA, you could easily drop the BCBS coverage for yourself. That's what I did when I became 100% and was on my wife's work-related insurance. We dropped me from her insurance and, in a short time, I was covered by both VA & Medicare A & B. I chose B from the beginning because if you wait, it costs you more...there's a built-in penalty for waiting.

It wasn't too long before my wife decided to take advantage of CHAMPVA and we dropped her expensive work related health insurance. This was one of the best moves we've made. The CHAMPVA insurance is accepted by any doctor who takes Medicare as a payment. The deductibles are similar to Medicare and are affordable, not so different than employer provided insurance.  We're really happy with our overall health care today. I see my VA doctor once or twice each year and I get all my meds through VA at no cost. If my civilian doctor writes a prescription, I scan it and forward it to my VA doctor for his approval and entry into the VA system. That works well so far. My wife's prescriptions are filled by mail or at a local pharmacy at no or very low cost. In a nutshell, we think that CHAMPVA is actually better coverage than my VA coverage. She can choose her doctor, she doesn't need referrals to specialty docs and with a little planning, the cost is manageable. Good luck, sir.

Follow Up Question

Hi Jim, first off I would like to thank you so much for your input in regards to my wife keeping or dropping her insurance. I shared your response with her and she was enlightened. I guess my only question now is this. Because we do not get a stub from her retirement check as it is directly deposited, we do not know what the policy cost her monthly. We have gotten various amounts for the Medicare Part B coverage so in fact we don't know if there will be a savings. We are pretty sure there will be. Do we have to wait until Open Season to cancel myself from her policy and or cancel her so that she can pick up Part B as well as myself. We were told that we did not have to pay a penalty for not picking up Part B at her retirement date but we were also told that we would have to pay penalty. So we are still confused and I believe have until November when it will be open season to make things happen. Any more Direction is appreciated.

Follow Up Answer

I'm not able to answer those questions...the amount of your personal information I'd need to discuss such things is a lot more than we can accomplish in this forum. Now that you understand all the options, your best bet is to put in the time required to educate yourself about the variables that will affect your decision. You have some preference decisions to make too. Many people fear medical debt and they take on as much health insurance as they can get even if it costs more. Others will be constrained by their budget (like me) and look for the least cost options they can put together. I'm really sort of middle of the road...I use the options available as I think I need to. With some planning you'll end up with health insurance that fits your needs as well as being affordable to your budget. Start here.