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Is Medicare Primary or Secondary?


When Medicare is your only source of insurance, it always takes precedence. Predetermined coordination of benefits enters the scene when supplementary insurance is added. What type of coverage is primary and which is secondary will be decided by this coordination of benefits.

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Seniors still receive wonderful benefits from Medicare, whether it is main or secondary, but there is a distinction as to which insurance pays for medical care first. Your primary insurance will pay out first, followed by your secondary insurance. The circumstances where Medicare is primary or secondary and there is no benefit coordination are covered below.

Is Medicare Primary or Secondary to Group Insurance?

When you have group insurance, Medicare is your primary form of protection. There are numerous instances of Medicare serving as supplemental insurance, though. Here are some examples of situations seniors could encounter.

Is Medicare Primary or Secondary?

Group Coverage Through Larger Employer

Many Medicare beneficiaries have group insurance through their work or that of their spouse. When the employer has more than 20 employees, Medicare is secondary coverage in this situation.

Seniors who decide to put off enrolling in Medicare Part B because their group coverage is less expensive should be aware that, in many situations, Medicare will offer greater coverage and be more affordable when it serves as their primary insurance.

Under 65 and Disabled with Larger Employer Group Coverage

Medicare serves as your secondary payer if you have group employment coverage through an employer with more than 100 employees, are under 65, and are qualified for Medicare as a result of a disability.

End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

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If you have been diagnosed with ESRD, have group workplace coverage, and have been eligible for Medicare for fewer than 30 months, Medicare will be your secondary insurance.

Medicare as Secondary Insurance Outside of Employer Group Coverage

Medicare isn’t as popular as secondary insurance, particularly for seniors without employer-sponsored group coverage. Nevertheless, there are circumstances in which this benefit coordination works. Here are a few of the more typical ones.


For Medicare-approved services received in a civilian facility, TRICARE pays first; if you are an active duty military member, Medicare pays second. A military hospital or federal healthcare facility cannot be treated under Medicare.

Receiving Workers’ Compensation

If you are injured or fall ill while working, Medicare will pay after your workers’ compensation policy. Medicare will therefore pay after. Medicare, however, will pay for any medical care you obtain that is not connected to the workers’ compensation claim first.

Federal Black Lung Program

If you are insured under the Federal Black Lung Program, Medicare will only be your secondary payer.

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No Coordination of Benefits

The policies won’t cooperate or complement one another if there is no coordination of benefits. When you have a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare and Marketplace insurance, or Veterans (VA) Benefits, for instance, some instances. These healthcare initiatives are not coordinated with Medicare.

When is Medicare Primary?

In most circumstances, Medicare is the primary insurance option for people who have multiple types of coverage. When Medicare coordinates with group insurance through a smaller business, COBRA, being on inactive duty with TRICARE, or Medicaid, for instance, Medicare pays first. Typically, secondary insurance won’t pay until the original insurance has finished paying its half.

Medicare Primary vs. Secondary Insurance with Small Employers

Medicare will be your primary insurance and your employer coverage will be your secondary insurance if your employer employs less than 20 people.

Additionally, Medicare Part B does not credit employment coverage. As a result, if you wait, you will pay the late registration fee. This is the case even if your spouse is covered by your group plan, which is why it’s so important to sign up for Medicare as soon as you can.

Also, take into account the cost of your current employer-provided insurance. Medicare often has much lower monthly premium rates. To determine whether choosing Medicare as your primary insurance will save you money, compare the two choices side by side.

Medicare Primary, COBRA As Secondary

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In some cases, you may have both Medicare and COBRA at the same time. Medicare will typically take precedence over COBRA in most cases. If your group insurance plan contains unique guidelines that establish the primary payer, then there is an exemption.

It’s uncommon for someone with Medicare eligibility to find COBRA to be the preferable choice. This is due to COBRA’s higher cost compared to Medicare. You can discontinue your COBRA coverage after you sign up for Medicare.

It’s also important to note that COBRA is not accepting insurance. Due to COBRA’s inferior standing to Medicare, if you are eligible for Medicare but choose not to enroll, you will be subject to late enrollment fees. Even if your COBRA coverage is in effect for a period longer than eight months, you must enroll in Medicare within the first eight months of having it.

Retiree Coverage

You are receiving retiree coverage when your group job insurance keeps you protected after you retire. In this case, Medicare takes precedence over your retiree convergence.

Prescription drug coverage is frequently offered to retirees. You most likely won’t need to sign up for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage if this is the case for you.

Under 65 and Disabled with Employer Group Coverage

Let’s say you have group employment coverage through a small or medium-sized firm with less than 100 employees and are under 65, qualified for Medicare as a result of a disability. Your employer’s insurance will be secondary in this scenario and Medicare will serve as your primary payer.

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TRICARE for Life

Military retirees and their spouses are automatically eligible for TRICARE for Life when they become eligible for Medicare (TFL). The main payer for any care you receive outside of a military facility is Medicare. Veterans should therefore sign up for Medicare Parts A and B as soon as they are eligible.

However, TFL has decent drug coverage, so you can avoid signing up for Medicare Part D. In order to gain more benefits, some veterans with TRICARE for Life also sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan.

Vision and dental insurance are two examples of these additional advantages. Additionally, TRICARE for Life will assist in defraying a portion of the out-of-pocket expenses related to Medicare Advantage plans.

End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

For the first 30 months after receiving an ESRD diagnosis, seniors retain their existing employer’s coverage as their primary insurance. Your primary coverage automatically transitions to Medicare after these first 30 months, just like it would with COBRA or retiree insurance.

If you obtain a successful kidney transplant while receiving Medicare as a result of ESRD, your eligibility for the program will expire after 36 months. If you qualify for Medicare because of your age or disability, you will continue to get it even after a kidney transplant.

Is Medicare Primary or Secondary to Medicaid?

Medicaid is a federal assistance program managed by the states that aid low-income Americans. You are considered dual eligible when you are accepted into both Medicaid and Medicare. The main payer for patients with dual eligibility is Medicare. Medicaid won’t make a payment until Medicare does.

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You may be eligible for a Medicare Savings Program to help you with these costs if you are dual eligible and need aid paying for Medicare Part B and Part D. Prior to receiving care, you should always confirm that your provider accepts both Medicare and Medicare.

Can You Have Private Insurance and Medicare?

Medicare and commercial insurance are also options. As we’ve already mentioned, Medicare will typically serve as the principal payer. Your other form of insurance will become a secondary payer as a result.

Does Medicare Secondary Cover Primary Deductible?

No, Medicare cannot pay your primary insurer’s deductible in its capacity as a secondary payer since you must first pay your deductible in order to be covered.

For instance, secondary insurance will cover all or a portion of your expenses once your original insurance company has paid. However, you must first pay your deductible in order to receive coverage from your primary insurance.

Is Medicare Advantage Primary or Secondary?

When you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, a commercial insurance company replaces Medicare as the payer of your medical expenses. As a result, Medicare is no longer obligated to cover your claims. Your primary and only kind of insurance is your Medicare Advantage plan.

Is Marketplace Coverage Primary or Secondary to Medicare?

Medicare and the marketplace are incompatible. Any Marketplace subsidies you received will end once you become eligible for Medicare.

If you are not qualified for premium-free Medicare Part A, there is only one exemption. Additionally, you cannot sign up for a Marketplace plan after you are receiving Medicare.

Is Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits Primary or Secondary to Medicare?

Benefits from the Veterans Affairs (VA) and Medicare do not complement one another; both are primary. When you visit a facility for veterans, your VA benefits serve as your exclusive and main form of insurance. On the other hand, at a facility for civilians, Medicare serves as your exclusive source of coverage.

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You can access any civilian and non-civilian doctors and hospitals if you are eligible for both Veterans’ benefits and Medicare.

Is a Medicare Supplement Plan Primary or Secondary?

Medicare Supplemental Insurance is a secondary payer. The healthcare facility will submit Medicare claims first. They will then charge your Supplement plan.

Does Medicare Send Claims to Your Medicare Supplement Insurance?

If you have Medicare Supplement coverage, all claims will be handled by Medicare first. The remaining amount will then be billed by Medicare to your Medicare Supplement provider.

What Is the Medicare Secondary Payer Act?

In order to prevent Medicare funds from being used to pay for services that other health insurance plans would typically cover as primary, Congress created the Medicare Secondary Payer Act.

Do You Need Secondary Insurance with Medicare?

Your medical requirements will determine if you need Medicare supplemental insurance. Getting additional coverage, like Medigap, helps pay out-of-pocket expenditures and can lower your financial commitment because Medicare doesn’t cover all of your healthcare expenses.

How Do Primary and Secondary Insurance Work with Medicare Part D?

Together with other prescription medication plans, Medicare Part D coordinates care. Which of the two insurance policies is primary and which is secondary will depend on any other prescription insurance you may have.

How To Know if Medicare Is Primary or Secondary

Do you want to know if your existing healthcare coverage comes first or second to Medicare? Are you having trouble figuring out what secondary supplementary plans you have access to on your own?

Call us at +1 (877) 255-0284. Our representatives can respond to your inquiries and assist you in choosing the plan that best suits your medical need. Fill out an online rate form right away if you would rather compare possibilities in your area online.

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