Why We Switch to Medicare at Age 65

Why We Switch to Medicare at Age 65
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All military retirees have been required to enroll in Medicare since Medicare was established in 1965. Before Medicare, retirees either relied on space available at the base hospital, which is still an option, or they were on their own in the community. (Please note: This article is about DoD health care, not VA health care.)


[FROM MOAA's TRICARE GUIDE: Medicare and TRICARE at 65 and Beyond]


By law, TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select end at age 65. This requires service retirees to enroll in Medicare at age 65 to maintain a major health care plan and our TRICARE benefits. TRICARE For Life (TFL) acts as our Medicare supplement, and TFL allows us to continue using the TRICARE pharmacy.


In 2001, TFL was established in acknowledgment that military retirees were promised health care for life. It was the result of a compromise worked out among MOAA and The Military Coalition members, Capitol Hill, and DoD.


[RELATED: MOAA's Major Legislative Accomplishments]


While we must pay the Part B premiums, there are no other costs for TFL. The Medicare/TFL plan ensures retirees pay nothing more than Part B premiums. For years, DoD has sought to add a premium on TFL. We've been able to stop those efforts so far.


You must have Medicare Parts A and B and TFL to continue using the TRICARE pharmacy at age 65.


[MOAA PUBLICATION: Aging Into Medicare and TRICARE For Life (Premium/Life Member Login Required)]


U.S. Family Health Plan (USFHP)

Members enrolled in USFHP since September 2012 and prior can stay in the USFHP at age 65. Members enrolled in USFHP in October 2012 or later will be disenrolled from USFHP at age 65 and are required to enroll in Medicare/TFL.


Both USFHP and TRICARE strongly recommend USFHP members to enroll in Medicare Parts A&B at age 65, even if they can stay in the USFHP. If you can stay in a USFHP after age 65, you need to understand the cost differences and reasons behind the recommendation to go Medicare/TFL.


See your USFHP handbook to read about all the details and costs associated with staying in USFHP at age 65, if eligible.


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About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®
Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Ostrom is MOAA's former Program Director, Financial & Benefits Education/Counseling