Medicare is one of the health insurance programs run by the federal government that helps people with the costs of health care. Medicare focuses on senior citizens who are older than 65 years of age as well as people with severe disabilities who are also recipients of disability benefits. TRICARE is also another type of health insurance program run by the government.
TRICARE is the military health insurance program for people who are active service members, National Guard and Reserve members, citizens who have retired and their families, family survivors and eligible former spouses. TRICARE complements the health care provided by the personnel of the military with networks of private health care institutions, professionals, pharmacies and suppliers. One of the ways in which it differs from Medicare is that TRICARE has members worldwide while Medicare's eligible beneficiaries are in the US. TRICARE also provides benefits for its beneficiaries as military status and position changes over time. To receive TRICARE benefits, you have to register in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, and you can choose from different plans that provide different types of care.
Medicare Part B
Medicare is run by the Social Security Administration, and it provides health care benefits for senior citizens who reach 65 years of age and people with disabilities who are enrolled in Social Security disability programs. Medicare only provides care for the individual who is enrolled. However, you can also enroll if you are a spouse of a beneficiary. Medicare Part A is free if you have paid Medicare tax. Medicare Part B requires the payment of monthly premiums, and it helps you with costs of preventive care, doctor visits, hospital outpatient care and home health care. If you find that you have been automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B and you do not want to be, you can cancel your enrollment. However, if you do so and later on you need its coverage, you might have to pay monthly penalties.
Medicare Part B and TRICARE
If you have TRICARE and you are enrolled in Medicare Part A because you reached 65 years of age, you have to enroll in Medicare Part B to keep your TRICARE coverage. This means that you are required to pay monthly premiums for Part B to be able to keep the coverage you need from TRICARE. Your TRICARE prescription drug coverage also requires that you join Part B. Medicare always pays the services that are covered through your Medicare Part B first. After Medicare has paid (if there is still any bills left), TRICARE pays for these services. If TRICARE provides you coverage that you do not have with Medicare, then TRICARE pays first.
You are not required to sign up for Medicare Part B to keep your TRICARE coverage if you meet some conditions. If you are an active duty service member, you do not need to enroll in part B while you are on active duty. If you are the spouse or dependent child of a member who is on active duty, you do not need to sign up for Part B to keep your TRICARE coverage. However, as soon as the active duty member retires, you must enroll in Part B. Otherwise, you will lose your TRICARE coverage.