Is VA Health Care Free?

is va health care free

The VA healthcare system isn’t free, but certain groups of veterans pay minimal or even no costs to receive care.

Veterans rated at at least 50% disabled due to service-connected injuries or former POWs are entitled to free healthcare through the VA. Other veterans in higher priority groups must make copayments which cover about 14 percent of department costs associated with that care group.

Most VA medical centers provide comprehensive inpatient and outpatient health services, from primary care and disease prevention through diagnosis and surgery; mental health (including post-traumatic stress disorder or PSTD) surgery; pharmacy; prosthetics; audiology/speech pathology/geriatrics, oncology dermatology podiatry podiatry to urology services are among their offerings.

VA offers dental and eye care at various locations as well as comprehensive rehabilitation services, and offers benefits packages for dependents that include family planning, women’s health services and homemaker assistance.

Eligibility for VA healthcare depends on several factors, including length of active duty service, disability rating and income status. You have up to 10 years post-discharge or release from active duty (including National Guard and Reserve) before enrolling for VA healthcare benefits. If you served during Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF)/ Operation New Dawn (OND), and were diagnosed with conditions due to that service, eligibility period is extended accordingly.

Under law, VA must evaluate each Veteran’s financial situation and assess his or her eligibility for enrollment and priority groups. Priority Group 1 veterans receive care without copayment while Priority Group 8 Veterans pay enrollment fees as well as copayments for nonservice-connected care. Veteran who fall within Priority Groups 2-5 may need to contribute some or all of their care costs if their incomes surpass certain thresholds.

If you have private health insurance, VA can help determine whether it will offset some or all of your copayments for VA healthcare costs. They can also negotiate payment arrangements such as repayment plans, waivers or compromises for veterans with unpaid VA healthcare debts over 120 days old which are then sent for collection by the Department of Treasury.

If you are homeless Veteran receiving care at any VA facility or living permanently housing Veteran receiving care at any VA facility, VA will pay for transportation to and from hospital. This benefit can be found at any of VA’s 300 community-based outpatient clinics or any VA hospital; please note this benefit does not cover transportation provided directly from Boston Veterans Affairs Medical Center to and from any VA facility for specialized care; under the Clay Hunt SAV Act of 2015 it was expanded to all service-connected disability veterans traveling less than 40 miles for treatment within 12 months – learn more here.

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