When a person reaches a certain point in their life, they have to begin planning for the future. After working for years or serving in the military, the federal government offers a number of programs to make your golden years easier and more affordable. Two of these are Tricare and Medicare turning 65. The fact is, however, these programs can be a bit confusing if you don’t fully understand what is covered or how to get the coverage you need. Learn more about Tricare and Medicare turning 65 here.
Tricare For Life, often just referred to as TFL, is the Tricare Medicare wraparound coverage. It is available when you have Medicare Parts A and B coverage. Understanding more about how Medicare will affect your Tricare coverage will help you know what to do and how to ensure you have the best coverage possible.
How to Stay Tricare Eligible
If you are eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A coverage, then you also have to enroll in Part B Medicare coverage to maintain your Tricare, regardless of where you live or how old you are.
- Important note – There are exceptions to this rule so be sure to call the Medicare office if you think one may apply to your situation.
Once you are enrolled in Parts A and B coverage, you will automatically receive Tricare benefits thanks to TFL. It is important to keep your information updated with the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, DEERS, to ensure that you receive your Tricare benefits in a timely manner.
Enrolling in Medicare
For Tricare and Medicare turning 65, your birthdate will determine when you are eligible. When it comes to Medicare, you will need to enroll during the Initial Enrollment Period, which lasts for seven months around your 65th birthday.
- Important note: It is important to note that in order to continue your eligibility for TriCare for Life, you have to enroll in Medicare as soon as you are eligible. The only exception is if you remain on active duty after the age of 65, in which case you and your spouse would continue to receive the original TriCare benefits until retirement.
Your TFL coverage will start on the first day that you receive both Part A and B coverage. If you want to avoid the Medicare Part B penalty you need to follow these guidelines:
- Sign up for Medicare coverage two to four months prior to turning 65.
- Don’t let the initial enrollment period pass without signing up.
If you currently live in the United States, or in one of the U.S. territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam or American Samoa and you currently receive retirement benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board or the SSA, you will be enrolled in Medicare coverage Part A automatically and be enrolled in Part B coverage when you reach the age of 65.
If you live outside of the U.S. or the U.S. territories, then you have to apply for Medicare coverage, even if you are currently receiving retirement benefits.
If you are currently entitled to receive Medicare benefits because of a disability or medical condition, your coverage will continue without any type of interruption when you reach the age of 65. If you are having to pay a premium surcharge because of late enrollment into Medicare Part B coverage, it will cease when you reach the age of 65. If you are determined to be eligible for Medicare Part A, but you do not have Part B, you will automatically be enrolled in this when you are determined to be eligible based on your age.
What You will Pay with Medicare and TFL
When you enroll successfully in Tricare and Medicare turning 65, you will have to pay the premium for Medicare Part B based on your income; however, there is no premium associated with TFL. When you have medical bills, they will first be paid by Medicare and then TFL will pay for almost anything that Medicare will not cover. This includes the copays and deductibles required by Medicare. This means that TFL is a full supplementary insurance to Medicare coverage. Also, TFL offers prescription drug coverage that is much more generous than what is provided under Medicare Part D, so there will be no need to sign up for this.
The rule associated with TFL coverage also applies to your spouse if you are no longer active duty with the military. If your spouse reaches the age of 65 before you, they will have to transfer from original TriCare to TFL and enroll in Medicare Part B even though you will still receive TriCare. At this point, your TriCare premium will be cut in half. The same is true for your situation. If you turn 65 before your spouse, they will remain on TriCare after you have moved to TFL until they reach official Medicare age.
- Important note: If you, or your spouse, become eligible for Medicare coverage, under the age of 65, due to a disability, the same rules will apply.
Important Rules about Medicare and TriCare Enrollment
You need to understand that if you don’t enroll in Medicare when you are supposed to based on the rules outlined here, your TriCare benefits will also stop and you may be required to pay for any benefits you received from TriCare for the duration of time you were Medicare eligible.
The relationship between Tricare and Medicare turning 65 can be difficult to understand at first. However, taking the time to get to know the facts and what needs to be done to maintain your coverage will help you avoid having to pay out-of-pocket for your medical expenses after you reach the age of 65. Keep in mind, there are a number of resources available that can help you learn how to apply for Medicare and how TriCare and Medicare work together.