The flu and sick season are approaching fast, on top of Pandemic health concerns that we have been dealing with for the past seven months. With that in mind, let us talk VA healthcare!
First, let us look at some common misconceptions about VA healthcare. Eligibility is income based, the VA looks at income and out of-pocket-medical costs for the past year for the Veteran and dependents and offsets these two numbers from one another. The Veteran may still have co-pays even if going to a VA Doctor. There are different tiers of eligibility based on income and if there is a service-connected disability. Some tiers will have co-pays while others do not.
Another thing I have been getting a lot of questions about is the Veterans Choice Program about going to a local Doctor. That is a possibility but there are eligibility requirements for that that must be approved prior to seeing that physician (possible exception is a life threatening emergency where a Veteran needs to get to the nearest ER, that will be discussed a little later on.) What I always suggest to Veterans is, if you want the VA to pay for it start with the VA first!
Basic eligibility requirements per the VA website:
If you served in the active military, naval or air service and are separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty (other than for training only) by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty also may be eligible for VA health care.
Minimum Duty Requirements per the VA website:
Most Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty to be eligible. This minimum duty requirement may not apply to Veterans who were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, were discharged for a hardship or received an “early out.” Since there are a number of other exceptions to the minimum duty requirements, VA encourages all Veterans to apply to determine their enrollment eligibility.
A question I receive a lot is from our Veterans who are close to retirement. They are planning ahead and do not want to have to pay for supplemental insurance once they are out of the workforce. That is an option but please note that if you were experiencing what you felt was a medical emergency, i.e. you thought you were having a heart attack. You go to the nearest ER and it is then determined that it was not an actual life-threatening emergency. The VA would NOT pay for that care. They will only pay at a non-VA facility if it is deemed life threatening. So, in situations such as this a supplemental insurance would be very good to have.
Hopefully, this brief overview helps give you an idea on how the VA healthcare system works. Please give me a buzz to get signed up or answer any questions that you have!