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How Does Medicare Work With Other Insurance

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Medicare Pays First When It Serves As Your Primary Payer

Learning How Medicare Works with a Secondary Insurance

If you have Medicare as well as another type of insurance, your coverage is provided through a coordination of benefits. In some situations, Medicare will serve as your primary payer, which means Medicare pays first. Your other insurance coverage will then serve as your secondary payer.

In the following situations, Medicare acts as your primary payer:

  • You are dual-eligible . Medicaid becomes the secondary payer after Medicare pays first.
  • You are age 65 or older and are covered by a group health plan because you or your spouse is still working and the employer has fewer than 20 employees. The group health plan in this situation serves as the secondary payer.
  • You are retired and entitled to Medicare, but you still receive health insurance from your former employer. The retiree coverage is the secondary payer if you enroll in Medicare, which will pay first for qualified services.
  • You are disabled and have workplace coverage provided through an employer with fewer than 100 employees. The group health plan is your secondary payer after Medicare pays first for your health care costs.
  • You have End-Stage Renal Disease , are covered by a group health plan and have been entitled to Medicare for at least 30 months. The group health plan pays second, after Medicare.
  • You have ESRD and COBRA insurance and have been eligible for Medicare for at least 30 months. COBRA is the secondary payer in this situation, and Medicare pays first for qualified services.
  • Medicare Secondary Claim Development Questionnaire

    The Medicare Secondary Claim Development Questionnaire is sent to obtain information about other insurers that may pay before Medicare. When you return the questionnaire in a timely manner, you help ensure correct payment of your Medicare claims.

    This questionnaire is mailed when a claim is submitted to Medicare with an explanation of benefits attached, a self-report is made by you or your attorney identifying a Medicare Secondary Payer situation, or an insurer submits MSP information to a contractor, or the BCRC. This questionnaire asks:

    • If you have other health insurance or coverage based upon your current employment
    • If you are receiving black lung benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, or treatment for an injury or illness for which another party could be held liable, or are covered under automobile no-fault insurance and
    • If you have other health insurance or coverage based upon a family member’s current employment.

    You may access a sample Medicare Secondary Claim Development questionnaire in the Downloads section at the bottom of this page. Note that the questionnaire you receive may appear slightly different depending on the reason you are entitled to Medicare. If assistance is needed in completing the questionnaire, the BCRC should be contacted. For BCRC contact information, please click the Contacts link in the Related Links section below.

    Does Medicare Work Together With Medicaid

    Yes, but Medicaid will always pay as the payer of last resort. This means if you have Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare will pay as primary and Medicaid as secondary. If you have Medicare, another insurance, and Medicaid, Medicaid will only pay after Medicare and the other insurance company have processed the claim.

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    Employer Or Military Retiree Coverage

    If you or your spouse has an Employer Group Health Plan as retiree health coverage from an employer or the military , you may not need additional insurance. Review the EGHPs costs and benefits and contact your employer benefits representative or SHIIP to learn how your coverage works with Medicare.

    How Does Medicare Work With My Other Health Insurance Coverage

    How does Medicare work with other insurance?

    Medicare works in tandem with your other health insurance coverage. The two tag team. One insurance plan becomes the primary payer or the one that pays costs first. The other insurance becomes the secondary payer and pays the remaining costs. However, just because the secondary payer is left with the remaining costs does not mean it must pay 100% of the leftover costs.

    Which insurance pays first depends on the type of insurance you have. For instance, if you have retiree insurance, Medicare pays first. If you have an employer group plan, who pays first depends on factors such as your age and the size of the company.

    For additional information on how Medicare works with other insurance, visit for the publication Who Pays First or call 1-800-633-4227.

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    Is Medicare A Primary Or Secondary Payer

    Medicare can be either a primary or secondary payer, depending on what other insurance you have and the situation involved in the claim. For those who have Medicare, here are some of the situations when Medicare might be the secondary payer:

    • The medical care you’re receiving is due to a workplace illness or injury and workers comp benefits are involved. Workers comp would be the primary payer.
    • The health care you’re receiving is due to an auto accident and auto insurance with medical coverage is involved. The auto insurance would pay as primary before Medicare would pay.
    • The medical services you’re receiving are due to an accident where liability insurance coverage is involved. The liability insurance would likely be primary.
    • You’re older than 65 and have Medicare coverage, but you also have health care benefits through an employer-sponsored plan via your spouse’s employment and the employer involved has more than 19 employees.
    • You’re younger than 65 and have Medicare coverage because of a disability, but you also have health care benefits through an employer-sponsored plan via your spouse’s employment and the employer involved has more than 99 employees.
    • The care you’re receiving is covered by black lung benefits, which would pay primary before Medicare.

    Which Is Better For Those With Dependents

    Typically, private insurance is a better option for people with dependents. While Medicare plans offer coverage only to individuals, private insurers usually allow people to extend health coverage to dependents, including children and spouses.

    Age can also be a factor when deciding between enrolling in Medicare or a private insurance plan. To qualify for Medicare, an individual must be at least 65 years of age or have certain conditions that meet the eligibility criteria, such as end stage renal disease. On the other hand, private insurance is available to anyone, regardless of age.

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    How Tricare For Life Works With Medicare Plans

    TRICARE For Life may work with Original Medicare , a Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D prescription drug plan.

    However, you may want to think carefully about whether you need Medicare drug coverage. TRICARE ForLife includes a prescription drug benefit, so you may not need Part D. If you have TRICARE For Life and decide you want to enroll in Part D coverage, you can do it at any time. The TRICARE drug benefit is considered creditable coverage, which means it is at least as good as Medicare Part D. This allows you to sign up without paying the Part D late enrollment penalty.

    When you have TRICARE For Life and Medicare, you wont receive a TRICARE wallet card. You only need your Medicare plan card and military ID as proof of coverage.

    What Other Types Of Coverage Can You Have With Texas Medicare

    How Do Other Insurances Work With Medicare?

    Private insurance is provided by privately-held companies.

    Most people who have private insurance receive coverage through an employer.

    If your job or your spouses job covers your insurance, you have private coverage.

    Some people also purchase private insurance directly from the insurance company.

    Public insurance is paid for by the government.

    Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs benefits, and other similar programs are all considered public insurance.

    Its possible to have multiple insurance policies.

    You can be covered by Medicare, which is a public insurance plan, as well as a private insurance plan.

    These are the most common situations where a patient holds both types of insurance.

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    Comparison With Private Insurance

    Medicare differs from private insurance available to working Americans in that it is a social insurance program. Social insurance programs provide statutorily guaranteed benefits to the entire population . These benefits are financed in significant part through universal taxes. In effect, Medicare is a mechanism by which the state takes a portion of its citizens’ resources to provide health and financial security to its citizens in old age or in case of disability, helping them cope with the enormous, unpredictable cost of health care. In its universality, Medicare differs substantially from private insurers, which must decide whom to cover and what benefits to offer to manage their risk pools and ensure that their costs do not exceed premiums.

    Medicare also has an important role in driving changes in the entire health care system. Because Medicare pays for a huge share of health care in every region of the country, it has a great deal of power to set delivery and payment policies. For example, Medicare promoted the adaptation of prospective payments based on DRG’s, which prevents unscrupulous providers from setting their own exorbitant prices. Meanwhile, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has given Medicare the mandate to promote cost-containment throughout the health care system, for example, by promoting the creation of accountable care organizations or by replacing fee-for-service payments with bundled payments.

    Military Retiree And Va Benefits

    The Veterans Affairs isnt an insurance plan, so if you want coverage for services outside of the VA system, youll want to get Medicare.

    If you have both veterans benefits and Medicare, and you choose to use your VA benefits instead of Medicare, you typically must be treated at a VA facility to be covered by your VA benefits. However, the federal government has loosened restrictions on seeing a provider outside of the VA, so you should ask the VA prior to treatment to authorize services elsewhere.

    Medicare could cover services in which the VA doesnt pay for if the VA authorizes services in a non-VA hospital and the VA doesnt pay for all of the services you receive during a hospital stay.

    Medicare may also pay part of your copayment if you receive VA-authorized care by a doctor or hospital not part of the VA. Medicare doesnt cover services within the VA.

    Unlike the other scenarios on this page, there is no primary or secondary payer when it comes to VA vs. Medicare. Having both coverage gives veterans the option to get care from either VA or civilian doctors depending on the situation.

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    What Is The Medicare Part B Penalty

    If you dont sign up for Medicare Part B at 65 and later decide you need it, youll likely pay a penalty of 10% of the premium for each 12-month period that you delayed. You will pay this penalty for life, basically, since few people drop Medicare Part B once they have it.

    You can avoid the penalty if you had health insurance through your job or your spouses job when you first became eligible. You must sign up within eight months of when that coverage ends.

    How Medicare Interacts With Your Current Coverage

    How Does Medicare Work?

    Employer coverage and Medicare:

    • If you work for a company with fewer than 20 employees, Medicare is considered your primary coverage. That means Medicare pays first, and your employer coverage pays second.
    • If you work for a larger company, your employer-based coverage will be your primary coverage and Medicare your secondary coverage.
    • Either way, after both insurers have paid their part of your medical bill, you only pay the balance.

    Individual or Covered California health plans and Medicare:

    • There is usually no reason to keep an individual or Covered California plan once you have Medicare.
    • Once you have Medicare:
    • It is illegal for someone to sell you a marketplace or individual market policy.
    • You are not eligible for tax credits or other savings, which means you would pay full price for a marketplace plan.

    Retiree insurance and Medicare:

    • If you’re retired and receive health insurance through your former employer, you can still sign up for Medicare.
    • Medicare pays first, and your former employers group health plan pays second.
    • After both insurers pay, you pay the balance.

    Coverage from your spouses employer and Medicare:

    • If your spouses employer has fewer than 20 employees, Medicare pays first.
    • If it’s a larger company, the business’s health plan pays first.
    • After both insurers pay, you pay the balance.

    Military retiree and Veterans Affairs benefits and Medicare:

    Tricare and Medicare:

  • Retired military:
  • COBRA and Medicare:

    Medicaid and Medicare:

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    How Does Medicare And Private Insurance Work Together

    If you have private health insurance, you can still use Medicare services. There are times when you can claim Medicare benefits and use your private health insurance at the same time. For example, if you go to a public hospital as a private patient, you may be able to claim: from us for the costs we cover.

    Medicare Faqs And Information To Consider

    Automatic Enrollment:

    If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, or Federal Retiree benefits, your enrollment in Medicare is automatic. Your Medicare card should arrive in the mail shortly before your 65th birthday. Check the card when you receive it to verify that you are entitled to both Medicare Parts A and B.

    Initial Enrollment Period:

    If you are not eligible for Automatic Enrollment, contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or enroll online at, or visit the nearest Social Security office to enroll in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. You have a seven month window in which to enroll in Medicare without incurring a penalty. If youre not automatically enrolled in premium-free Part A, you can sign up for it once your Initial Enrollment Period starts. Your Part A coverage will start six months back from the date you apply for Medicare, but no earlier than the first month you were eligible for Medicare. However, you can only sign up for Part B during the times listed below.

    General Enrollment Period:

    • General Enrollment Period for Medicare Parts A & B

    If you have coverage through a current employer, you are not required to enroll in Medicare Part A and B. Below are some things to keep in mind about each part of Medicare.

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    How Medicare Works With Other Insurance

    If you have

    and other health insurance , each type of coverage is called a “payer.” When there’s more than one payer, “coordination of benefits” rules decide which one pays first. The “primary payer” pays what it owes on your bills first, and then sends the rest to the “secondary payer” to pay. In some rare cases, there may also be a third payer.

    How Does Medicare Work With Military Insurance Benefits

    How Does Medicare Work?

    If you are entitled to both Medicare and Veterans Administration benefits, Medicare pays for any Medicare-covered services or items. Your Veterans benefits will pay for any VA-authorized services or items that are not covered by Medicare.

    Medicare and the VA generally do not work together to pay for the same service or item. You may use both types of insurance for your health care, but they will operate separately from each other.

    TRICARE does work with Medicare. Active-duty military personnel who are enrolled in Medicare may use TRICARE as a primary payer, and then Medicare pays second as a secondary payer.

    For inactive members of the military who are enrolled in Medicare, Medicare acts as the primary payer and TRICARE pays second, provided that the services or items are received in a military hospital or other approved federal provider.

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    What Is Medicare And What Does It Cover

    Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list ofour partnersandhere’s how we make money.

    Medicare is the government health care program for people 65 and over, and its coverage plays an important role in containing medical costs as you age. But Medicare benefits dont pay for everything.

    As you approach age 65, youll need to decide how to deal with some of those coverage gaps. For now, knowing the basics of how Medicare works can help you understand some of the expenses youll face.

    C: Medicare Advantage Plans

    With the passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Medicare beneficiaries were formally given the option to receive their Original Medicare benefits through capitated health insurance Part C health plans, instead of through the Original fee for service Medicare payment system. Many had previously had that option via a series of demonstration projects that dated back to the early 1970s. These Part C plans were initially known in 1997 as “Medicare+Choice”. As of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, most “Medicare+Choice” plans were re-branded as “Medicare Advantage” plans . Other plan types, such as 1876 Cost plans, are also available in limited areas of the country. Cost plans are not Medicare Advantage plans and are not capitated. Instead, beneficiaries keep their Original Medicare benefits while their sponsor administers their Part A and Part B benefits. The sponsor of a Part C plan could be an integrated health delivery system or spin-out, a union, a religious organization, an insurance company or other type of organization.

    The intention of both the 1997 and 2003 law was that the differences between fee for service and capitated fee beneficiaries would reach parity over time and that has mostly been achieved, given that it can never literally be achieved without a major reform of Medicare because the Part C capitated fee in one year is based on the fee for service spending the previous year.

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