Veterans News: Healthcare confusion common
By Tammy Walters
Oneida County Veterans Service Officer
The most common question we get asked is about VA healthcare. VA healthcare is not insurance that can be used at non-VA facilities, and a veteran can’t apply just to use the VA to fill prescriptions (the two most common misconceptions). VA healthcare is actually going to a VA facility and being seen by a VA healthcare provider. There is a VA Clinic in Rhinelander and a VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain, Mich. that provide care to veterans in our area.
Effective January 17, 2003, the VA limited access to VA healthcare. In other words, not all veterans are eligible. There are some conditions that will automatically qualify you for healthcare but if you do not meet any of those conditions, it is your household income that will determine whether or not you’re eligible. If you meet any one of the following conditions, you are automatically eligible for acceptance into the VA healthcare system: –
Purple Heart recipient;
– Former prisoner of war;
– Have a compensable (10% or higher) VA service-connected disability rating;
– Served in combat after November 11, 1998 (you’d only be eligible for five years after
– Discharged from the military for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty;
– Served in SW Asia during the Gulf War between August 2, 1990-November 11, 1998;
– Served in-country Vietnam between January 9, 1962-May 7, 1975;
– Served at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune, NC between August 1, 1953-December 31,
If you don’t meet at least one of those conditions, the VA will determine your eligibility based on your gross household income the previous calendar year. A single veteran must have an income below $36,300, and a veteran with one dependent must have an income below $41,470. These income limits often increase each year. The VA will adjust your income based on out-of-pocket medical expenses you and your dependents paid the previous calendar year. Countable out-of-pocket medical expenses include but are not limited to Medicare and other health insurance premiums, medication and doctor co-pays, dental, and eyeglasses.
There is no monthly premium for VA healthcare but there may be co-pays depending on what priority group the VA places you in if you’re approved.
Tammy Walters can be reached at (715) 369-6127 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jason Dailey, Assistant CVSO, can be reached at the same number or email@example.com.