Beneficiaries Eligible for TRICARE and Medicare

If you're eligible for both TRICARE and Medicare Part A, then in most cases you must have Medicare Part B to keep TRICARE. Understanding how Medicare and TRICARE work together and when to buy Part B can be confusing. Review the following pages carefully to understand what you need to do to keep your TRICARE coverage:

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are age 65 or older, people under age 65 with certain disabilities, people of any age with end stage renal disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), or mesothelioma.

Medicare Part Description
Part A
  • Covers hospitalization, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some home health care
  • No cost if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working
  • Learn more about Medicare Part A
Part B
  • Covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.
  • You pay a monthly premium
  • Learn more about Medicare Part B
Part D
  • Medicare's prescription drug plan - covers drugs listed on Medicare's formulary
  • You pay a monthly premium
  • You don't need it if you have TRICARE
  • Learn more about Medicare Part D

Enrolling in Medicare

Are You Turning 65?

You should sign-up for Medicare benefits a few months before you turn 65 to avoid a break in coverage. You're eligible to enroll in Medicare Part B at age 65 even if you are not eligible for Medicare Part A.

  • Sign up for Part B when first eligible to avoid a late enrollment penalty.
  • If your sponsor is on active duty, you may delay Part B enrollment without penalty.
  • Get started with Medicare

If you didn't sign up for Medicare Part B when you first became eligible, or you dropped it, you can sign up during Medicare's general enrollment period (January 1 - March 31 each year). Your Part B and TRICARE For Life coverage will start the first day of the month after you sign up. You may have to pay a Medicare Part B Late Enrollment PenaltyYour monthly premium for Part B may go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn't sign up for it..

Do you Have Employer-Sponsored Group Coverage?

  • If so, you may sign up later for Part B. However, you won't have TRICARE coverage if you don't have Medicare Part B.

Do You Have a Disability?

  • If you're receiving Social Security Disability payments, you'll automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B in the 25th month of disability.

Medicare Part B Premiums

Your Part B premium is based on your income. Most people pay the standard monthly premium. For more information about Part B premiums, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).

Your Part B premiums are taken from your monthly payment if you’re getting:

  • Social Security Retirement,
  • Social Security Disability, or
  • Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits.

If you're getting Social Security Retirement or Disability, or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits, your Part B premiums are taken from your monthly payment. If not, you'll be billed quarterly for your Part B premiums. 

Do you have questions about eligibility and Medicare?

  • If you have questions on Medicare and TRICARE eligibility, call the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DMDCS) at 1-800-538-9552
  • If you have questions about Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit

Want to order a hard copy of the TRICARE For Life Handbook? Call Wisconsin Physicians Service (WPS) at 1-866-773-0404.

Last Updated 9/8/2023