How To Save $$$ With VA Medical Benefits

How To Save $$$ With VA Medical Benefits

VA medical assistance is available to all military veterans and active-duty members. The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) provides healthcare in all 50 state1074s. You can search for your nearest VAMC through the Veterans Health Administration website. The services available vary depending on your priority group. There are eight different priority groups available. In addition to your benefits changing, whether or not you pay and how long you have to wait is also based on your priority group.

The Veterans Affairs Hospitals determine your priority using several factors. This includes whether you are actively serving, your military service record and your disability record. Your income level and whether you are receiving other veteran benefits, including pension pay will also affect your priority. Whether you qualify for Medicaid benefits also determines your priority level. To qualify as priority one, you must have a disability rating of at least 50 percent, be unable to work because of your disability or receive a Medal of Honor.

Basic Health Care Services for Veterans

VA health care covers your basic medical needs. No matter what your priority level, you are eligible for preventative care services. This includes your annual health exams, health education, immunizations against infectious diseases and counseling on genetic diseases. Both gender-specific exams and nutritional education are counted as preventative services.

Your VA medical center will also provide coverage for inpatient hospital services. These services may vary slightly based on your priority level. At a minimum, you will receive assistance with surgeries, hospital treatments and kidney dialysis. Veterans also have access to acute care, which includes VA hospital physical therapy costs, and recovery costs for severe illnesses or injuries after surgery. Inpatient hospital services also support specialized care. Some examples of specialized care for veterans are organ transplants, treating traumatic injuries and intensive care for both mental and physical illnesses or conditions.

VA Walk-in and Emergency Care

VA health care may be used at any VA health facility near you for urgent care or emergency services. There are VA clinics for walk-in cases. These are used for minor illnesses, like stomach aches or sore throats. For more severe cases, like treating a broken bone, you can go to a VA urgent care facility. You are not required to have a primary physician for any of these services. When you arrive, make sure to tell your care provider you are using your VA benefits.

Using your Benefits Outside of the VA

Outside of Veteran Affairs Hospitals, you can only use your benefits in an emergency situation. For the purpose of your benefits, an emergency situation is defined as a situation where there is no VA health facility nearby and your health would be put at immediate risk to reach the facility. For example, if you are in a car accident and must be brought to a hospital for immediate surgery, your VA benefits will cover the expenses at a general hospital. In these circumstances, the VA must be notified within 72 hours of your treatment. You will not automatically be declined outside of this 72-hour window if you can prove there was no reasonable way for you to contact the VA.

Extended Medical Services

VA medical centers will also provide select long term services. All veterans are entitled to mental health services, including treatment for PTSD, MST, depression and substance abuse problems. Financial assistance is also available if you live in an assisted living facility because of an injury or disability. 

Depending on your level of priority, you may also be eligible for home health care services. Veterans also receive assistance with diagnosing health conditions. This includes blood work and X-rays. Physical therapy, vision rehab and therapy due to a traumatic brain injury are also covered. Finally, your health services apply to prosthetic care, audiology and cancer treatments.

VA Prescriptions

VA community care prescriptions are included in your general medical care. Many of the VA prescription services are available online or through an app. You can order VA prescriptions online, view all your past orders and track the delivery of your recent orders. On average, it takes three to five days for prescription orders to arrive. Through the website or app, you can sign up for notifications or set up auto renewal for recurring prescription services. You may use either your DS login, or a HealtheVet account to access these online services.

VA Travel Benefits

While your basic VA health care does not cover travel expenses, you are able to request reimbursement. There are two types of travel reimbursement available. The first is for general health car travel. This includes any costs associated with using a car, train, bus or taxi to reach your medical appointment. The second is for special transportation, such as emergency ambulance services or requesting a wheelchair van.

To file for travel reimbursements through the VAMC, all you need is a copy of your receipt for the trip. You must submit your reimbursement claim within 30 days of when you traveled. You may either submit your claim online through the VA website or visit a VA medical center in-person to submit your claim information.

The VAMC can also provide assistance with veteran transportation services. These programs provide ride assistance for veterans who are unable to travel due to disabilities or age. Support is also available for veterans living in remote areas who cannot easily get to a health center. Contact the nearest VA medical center to find out what transportation services are available in your neighborhood.

Services not Covered by VA Health Benefits

While VA medical assistance covers many services and procedures, there are some options never covered by your VA insurance. Unless it is deemed medically necessary as part of your treatment, cosmetic surgery is not covered. You are also unable to use your insurance for treatments not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 

This includes medical trials not sponsored by the VA. Health club or gym memberships are not covered by your insurance, though these locations typically have discounted options for veterans. Finally, if you are incarcerated or a patient in a non-VA government agency your health benefits do not apply and you must use whatever benefits are normally provided at those facilities.