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Retired Vet Medical Coverage Question
Old 06-24-2012, 08:52 PM   #1
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Retired Vet Medical Coverage Question

I have done a lot of reading, but cannot find one thing - I think the answer is no, but I want to be sure.

Does a retired military person need supplemental insurance?

I have put into my retirement plan $3,000 a year to cover the cap on Tri-Care, but I want to make sure that there are not other surprises that maybe I have just not learned that may later come into play later on down the road. I do not mean changes that are made - I mean things that are in the fine print that I have missed...
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:10 PM   #2
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I have a friend who retired and got a supplemental policy prior to his retirement. He was telling me that his daughter spent some time in rehab and he did not have to pay the daily co-pay. My family is in a Prime location and we do not have a supplement. I do set $$ aside for co pays. I personally have never found a compelling reason to purchase one.

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Old 06-24-2012, 09:22 PM   #3
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I have a friend who retired and got a supplemental policy prior to his retirement. He was telling me that his daughter spent some time in rehab and he did not have to pay the daily co-pay. My family is in a Prime location and we do not have a supplement. I do set $$ aside for co pays. I personally have never found a compelling reason to purchase one.

JDARNELL

We use Standard Tri Care because we travel so much (including overseas) and stay at different locations for weeks to months at a time. Do not have co-pays - just pay the first $150 each flat no matter what and then 25% after that with a $3,000 cap annually. Since I am also a disabled Vet - I am covered and my wife just gets annual checkups and that is about it - for now... I have budgeted for the cap and such, but once I go to Tri-Care for Life and Medicare etc. - I just want to make sure we are covered and not get wiped out by something I forgot to cover...

Better to do it now while I am in the planning and execution phase...
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:52 AM   #4
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I have done a lot of reading, but cannot find one thing - I think the answer is no, but I want to be sure.
Does a retired military person need supplemental insurance?
You are correct-- the answer is "No".

You can buy supplemental insurance that will cover your Tricare Standard $3000/year (and prescription co-pays) so that you're not even paying that, but I think you'll end up losing money on that deal.

We use Prime too and only pay a few copays a year. And if you're overseas then it might be cheaper to just pay the doctor and not even bother with Tricare.

When you become eligible for Medicare, you'll also switch over to Tricare For Life. Medicare is your primary insurer (80%) and TFL becomes your Medicare supplemental insurance. There's a DoD proposal to charge ~$200/year for TFL but it's currently DOA in Congress.

Our biggest expenses are multifocal contact lenses. Tricare will pay for one exam every 1-2 years but the rules seem to keep conspiring against my timing. Costco's pretty affordable, though, and it's a lot less hassle than going to a military clinic.

I've heard that Tricare can be a hassle for hearing aids. You may prefer to stick with the VA for that service.

Most military retirees seem to have their highest expenses from dental exams/insurance. I'm currently getting away with one visit every 2-3 years for x-rays and cleaning. Others are spending thousands of dollars for root canals & crowns. It probably depends on your genes and on the bacterial environment in your mouth. In my case, I sure hope it does!
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:06 AM   #5
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You are correct-- the answer is "No".

Thanks, Nords.

I have been reading through this board and your blog a lot lately.

When it comes to retirement benefits - it is never good to assume that you have read everything and have it covered. It is always good to ask and get a direct answer. I actually asked that question to Tri-Care and the answer they gave me left me wondering, so when I found you on this board - I figured I would ask and you would chime in.

I almost sent the question via PM, but figured others may want confirmation...

I have the hearing aids, dental, etc. covered. The $3,000 is easy enough to cover and every year it is not used can be added to my vacation account ()...
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:00 AM   #6
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You are correct-- the answer is "No".

You can buy supplemental insurance that will cover your Tricare Standard $3000/year (and prescription co-pays) so that you're not even paying that, but I think you'll end up losing money on that deal.

We use Prime too and only pay a few copays a year. And if you're overseas then it might be cheaper to just pay the doctor and not even bother with Tricare.

When you become eligible for Medicare, you'll also switch over to Tricare For Life. Medicare is your primary insurer (80%) and TFL becomes your Medicare supplemental insurance. There's a DoD proposal to charge ~$200/year for TFL but it's currently DOA in Congress.

Our biggest expenses are multifocal contact lenses. Tricare will pay for one exam every 1-2 years but the rules seem to keep conspiring against my timing. Costco's pretty affordable, though, and it's a lot less hassle than going to a military clinic.

I've heard that Tricare can be a hassle for hearing aids. You may prefer to stick with the VA for that service.

Most military retirees seem to have their highest expenses from dental exams/insurance. I'm currently getting away with one visit every 2-3 years for x-rays and cleaning. Others are spending thousands of dollars for root canals & crowns. It probably depends on your genes and on the bacterial environment in your mouth. In my case, I sure hope it does!

Thanks NORDS, You seem to be the answer man. I had the same question, but had not asked yet. Just trying to re-assure the DW that we are ok, I am retired, 30% disabilty, DW will be retired (Air National Guard), 20% or more disability and FERS; we have access to VA, Standard Tri-Care, and civil service full Blue Cross and Blue Shield medical, dental, and vision. I also have us covered at my civilain job for medical , dental, and vision. For some reason DW does not feel we have enough, how do I change her mind
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:37 PM   #7
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Concerning Tricare for Life, and assuming no change in current law, am I correct in thinking that my only expense will be the Medicare Part B premium?
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Old 06-25-2012, 03:03 PM   #8
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I actually asked that question to Tri-Care and the answer they gave me left me wondering, so when I found you on this board - I figured I would ask and you would chime in.
I know exactly how you feel. But between Tricare and USAA's Scott Halliwell (of "Ask Scott" fame) we sorted it out:
Tricare, vehicle insurance, and uninsured/underinsured motorists | Military Retirement & Financial Independence

That post has already shot to the top of the "most popular" list, despite being only five days old, and traffic has been way up this week. I appear to have tapped into some sort of customer demand there.

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Thanks NORDS, You seem to be the answer man. I had the same question, but had not asked yet. Just trying to re-assure the DW that we are ok, I am retired, 30% disabilty, DW will be retired (Air National Guard), 20% or more disability and FERS; we have access to VA, Standard Tri-Care, and civil service full Blue Cross and Blue Shield medical, dental, and vision. I also have us covered at my civilain job for medical , dental, and vision. For some reason DW does not feel we have enough, how do I change her mind
Hey, we wrote the book on this board. Take a look at WorldCat.org to see if "The Military Guide" is at a library near you.

The biggest challenge to the 4% SWR has been concern over avoiding the failure risks. The best way to avoid failure is by annuitizing a portion of retirement income and being willing to reduce spending during bear markets. You and your spouse, with your multiple COLA'd pensions and medical insurance, have won the game in the third quarter-- and now you may be just running up the score.

One way to feel better might be to have her beat the crap out of FIRECalc. Another way might be to take her through Bob Clyatt's "Work Less, Live More" and its 4%/95% variable-withdrawal scheme. A third way could be a membership to FinancialEngines.com, where she can spend literally hours entering data and tweaking every possible parameter of investments, taxes, and projected inflation.

Of course she could also read the book and the blog.

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Concerning Tricare for Life, and assuming no change in current law, am I correct in thinking that my only expense will be the Medicare Part B premium?
I think that's correct, and until you start Social Security you have to pony up for Part B via some sort of checking-account deduction. (I haven't queried DFAS, but maybe you could even do it by allotment.) Once you start SS it's automatically deducted from that payment.

One area I'm ignorant about is whether TFL requires copayments for doctor visits and prescriptions. I think we have at least one poster on TFL now, so maybe they can tell us how that works.

Here's an interesting tidbit of military trivia. The front of my blue military retiree ID says "INDEF" for its expiration date. However the fine print on the back says "EXP DATE 2025SEP30", which is the month before I turn age 65. It's done that way to force us retirees to make one last visit to our personnel offices in order to sign up for Medicare & TFL-- and to get a new ID card.
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:13 PM   #9
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One area I'm ignorant about is whether TFL requires copayments for doctor visits and prescriptions. I think we have at least one poster on TFL now, so maybe they can tell us how that works.

I can tell you what the book says, but that is not always what holds true in real life...

If it is covered by Medicare and Tricare - Free - no copays (except maybe medicine). You can still get those filled at a military pharmacy if available.

If it is covered by Medicare and not Tricare - you pay what a normal person without Tricare would pay under Medicare.

If it is covered by Tricare and not Medicare - you pay the standard Co-pays, 1st $150, $3,000 cap etc.

If it is not covered by either - it is your bill - i.e. eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc...
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Old 06-25-2012, 07:57 PM   #10
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I can tell you what the book says, but that is not always what holds true in real life...

If it is covered by Medicare and Tricare - Free - no copays (except maybe medicine). You can still get those filled at a military pharmacy if available.

If it is covered by Medicare and not Tricare - you pay what a normal person without Tricare would pay under Medicare.

If it is covered by Tricare and not Medicare - you pay the standard Co-pays, 1st $150, $3,000 cap etc.

If it is not covered by either - it is your bill - i.e. eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc...
That seems to be the case.
I'm one of the geezers who transitioned last year from Tricare Standard to Medicare/TFL.

I had a serious injury in January and racked up nearly $5K in medical bills but paid not a penny.

My understanding is that TFL drug coverage is exactly the same as Tricare. I don't take any prescription meds, so I have no recent experience there.
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:09 PM   #11
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I can tell you what the book says, but that is not always what holds true in real life...

If it is covered by Medicare and Tricare - Free - no copays (except maybe medicine). You can still get those filled at a military pharmacy if available.

If it is covered by Medicare and not Tricare - you pay what a normal person without Tricare would pay under Medicare.

If it is covered by Tricare and not Medicare - you pay the standard Co-pays, 1st $150, $3,000 cap etc.

If it is not covered by either - it is your bill - i.e. eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc...
Cool. Thanks. I'm taking notes here.
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:38 PM   #12
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That seems to be the case.
I'm one of the geezers who transitioned last year from Tricare Standard to Medicare/TFL.

I had a serious injury in January and racked up nearly $5K in medical bills but paid not a penny.

My understanding is that TFL drug coverage is exactly the same as Tricare. I don't take any prescription meds, so I have no recent experience there.
I took the time to call an old friends wife about what TFL and Medicare did for them. He passed away about two years ago of cancer at age 66 (two months after he retired) - it pretty much took over his body...

She said that their part of the bills totaled a little over $12k - this was over a 14.5 month period of treatments (one surgery and a lot of traveling)... She had to get her son a lawyer to help figure it out - some Medicare did not cover, some Tri-Care did not, and some both did not - bits and pieces here and there (20% rules, co-pays, medicine, etc.) - everything was pretty much covered though - it just all confused her - she did not need a lawyer, but when you have a son that is one. The entire bill was well over $150k - so it sounds to me that it covered her pretty well...
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:46 PM   #13
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I know exactly how you feel. But between Tricare and USAA's Scott Halliwell (of "Ask Scott" fame) we sorted it out:
Tricare, vehicle insurance, and uninsured/underinsured motorists | Military Retirement & Financial Independence

That post has already shot to the top of the "most popular" list, despite being only five days old, and traffic has been way up this week. I appear to have tapped into some sort of customer demand there.


Hey, we wrote the book on this board. Take a look at WorldCat.org to see if "The Military Guide" is at a library near you.

The biggest challenge to the 4% SWR has been concern over avoiding the failure risks. The best way to avoid failure is by annuitizing a portion of retirement income and being willing to reduce spending during bear markets. You and your spouse, with your multiple COLA'd pensions and medical insurance, have won the game in the third quarter-- and now you may be just running up the score.

One way to feel better might be to have her beat the crap out of FIRECalc. Another way might be to take her through Bob Clyatt's "Work Less, Live More" and its 4%/95% variable-withdrawal scheme. A third way could be a membership to FinancialEngines.com, where she can spend literally hours entering data and tweaking every possible parameter of investments, taxes, and projected inflation.

Of course she could also read the book and the blog.


I think that's correct, and until you start Social Security you have to pony up for Part B via some sort of checking-account deduction. (I haven't queried DFAS, but maybe you could even do it by allotment.) Once you start SS it's automatically deducted from that payment.

One area I'm ignorant about is whether TFL requires copayments for doctor visits and prescriptions. I think we have at least one poster on TFL now, so maybe they can tell us how that works.

Here's an interesting tidbit of military trivia. The front of my blue military retiree ID says "INDEF" for its expiration date. However the fine print on the back says "EXP DATE 2025SEP30", which is the month before I turn age 65. It's done that way to force us retirees to make one last visit to our personnel offices in order to sign up for Medicare & TFL-- and to get a new ID card.
I'm filing for SS at 62, so the Part B at 65 won't be an issue.

I've noticed that expiration date on my ID card. The question is where to go to get a new one? They've closed every base reasonably close to me. I suppose a Guard or Reserve unit can issue one.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:14 PM   #14
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I've noticed that expiration date on my ID card. The question is where to go to get a new one? They've closed every base reasonably close to me. I suppose a Guard or Reserve unit can issue one.
Sounds like you need to take an Oahu vacation to Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam...
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:07 AM   #15
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Sounds like you need to take an Oahu vacation to Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam...

I want one of those and so does my wife. We have a few friends living there. I know one guy that his work out of California is seasonal so he spends his off time in Hawaii (6 mths)... He owns a condo there and rents it out when he is not there to friends. It must be rough.
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:47 AM   #16
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I don't really have anything to add to the solid advice that's been given above. But I do have one comment. When I was using Tricare Standard (with a MOAA supplement) for my primary insurance, I clearly understood every Tricare EOB I ever received. Being a reasonably organized person, when I started on Medicare/TFL, I tried to set up a system to track the Medicare Summary Notices (MSN's) and correlate them to the corresponding Tricare EOBs. Can't do it...The MSNs are so friggin' hard to understand that I've pretty much given up. I rarely if ever get a bill from a provider, so I figure the system must be working OK but it really irks me that Medicare makes it so hard to understand their statements. I'm a person of average intelligence without (as far as I can tell so far) any cognitive disabilities and these statements frustrate the hell out of me. I can't imagine what it must be like for a really old person who may be losing it cognitively and might have vision issues to boot!
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:09 AM   #17
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I've noticed that expiration date on my ID card. The question is where to go to get a new one? They've closed every base reasonably close to me. I suppose a Guard or Reserve unit can issue one.
You can find the nearest location that issues ID cards here:

http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl/

Best to call first, as operating hours vary widely.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:02 PM   #18
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You can find the nearest location that issues ID cards here:

http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl/

Best to call first, as operating hours vary widely.
Thanks for the link. I still have 5 years before I need a new one, just something I was wondering about.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:05 PM   #19
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Sounds like you need to take an Oahu vacation to Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam...
Sounds interesting. But that would be one expensive ID card.
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Old 06-26-2012, 02:24 PM   #20
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Being a reasonably organized person, when I started on Medicare/TFL, I tried to set up a system to track the Medicare Summary Notices (MSN's) and correlate them to the corresponding Tricare EOBs. Can't do it...The MSNs are so friggin' hard to understand that I've pretty much given up. I rarely if ever get a bill from a provider, so I figure the system must be working OK but it really irks me that Medicare makes it so hard to understand their statements. I'm a person of average intelligence without (as far as I can tell so far) any cognitive disabilities and these statements frustrate the hell out of me. I can't imagine what it must be like for a really old person who may be losing it cognitively and might have vision issues to boot!
I gave up.

Since the states administer Medicaid, and because I don't want to confuse Medicare, their mailing address for Dad is my brother's house near his care facility. But since I handle the bills for the medicare supplemental insurer, I use my Hawaii mailing address.

Both CMS and Bankers Casualty & Life seem to insist on sending paper. I can't figure out how to turn them off. It's not only impossible to correlate the Medigap payments to the medical appointments, but it's darn hard to figure out who you're paying. My Dad's visit to an oncologist always resulted in five different bills from five different companies, and only one of them was the oncologist. They're barely on the same continent.

Dad used to track his Medicare/Medigap payments on a spreadsheet. He kept it up for nearly a decade. Its only use to us adult sons has been for tracking Dad's health records-- when he's had cataract surgery or operations or crowns or other medical/dental visits.

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Sounds interesting. But that would be one expensive ID card.
Oh, I think you'd get fair value for the expense!
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