Medicare Answers: VA Health Care with MA Plan as a Backup, Possible or Not?

  • Originally published March 29, 2013 , last updated December 23, 2014
  • Medicare
Medicare Answers: VA Health Care with MA Plan as a Backup, Possible or Not?

If you have a Medicare question you’d like answered, email it to

This week’s question asks whether its possible to use VA health care with MA as a backup.

Al asks,

Al asks, I have a potential insured that dropped his Medicare supplement 7 years ago and has used VA exclusively for his care. Would this person be a good candidate for a MA plan as a backup and what are the concerns? For example will he have to pay a penalty if it is a MA-PD plan?


The opportunity to join an MA is negated as VA health care is NOT considered a health insurance plan as far as Medicare Part B. If your client had just dropped the Medicare Supplement and retained both Part A and B of Medicare and paid for Part B, he would be a candidate but not until the AEP for MA. If he dropped either A and B, your client would have to sign up for Medicare Part B through the General Election Period that ended March 31, 2013.

The Part B penalty permanently would add an extra 10 percent to your monthly premium for each year that you delay. So if you wait 7 years to sign up for Part B, and in that time you have no other health insurance apart from the VA’s, you would pay 70 percent more for the same coverage for the rest of your life.

Part D is slightly different. The prescription drug coverage in the VA is much better than Medicare’s and is considered creditable coverage for Part D. The only way to immediately enroll in Part D today is to have either Medicare Part A or Part B Medicare. Also the client would have to had lost their VA benefits. Otherwise again client will have to wait until the AEP but without penalty as long as the VA benefit was still active.

For more information on the VA health plan, visit this website: