If your parent or loved one has served on active duty in the military, you’ll want to research the medical benefits the Veterans Administration offers. Eligibility is determined by a complex priority system that takes into account the severity of service-connected disabilities and income level, giving high-priority groups the most services at the lowest cost.
The VA has its own hospitals, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, and physicians. Sometimes, depending on your loved one’s eligibility, VA healthcare will cover services that Medicare won’t, such as:
- Physical exams and preventative care
- Long term care
Again, this depends on which priority group your loved one qualifies for. Not all veterans are eligible for all VA benefits. Furthermore, higher incomes and net worth require co-payments, and veterans are required to report their income and net worth annually.
CHAMPVA and TRICARE
Formerly known as CHAMPUS, These are two health benefits programs available to some veterans and their families. Although the programs are similar, they are for different situations, and have different requirements and procedures. No one can be eligible for both.
This program provides coverage to the spouse or widow(er) and children of veterans who have died on active duty or from a service-connected injury or disability, or who have been permanently and totally disabled. See more details about eligibility at www.va.gov
This program is for active duty and retired military, their families, and survivors who aren’t eligible for Medicare. See more details about eligibility at www.va.gov
The First Step
The first step to determining eligibility is to have your loved one enroll with the VA. Enrollment is free. The enrollment form (VA Form 10-10 EZ) can be downloaded at www.va.gov or call 877-222-VETS and ask for a form to be mailed.
Once the filled out form has been reviewed, the VA will determine which priority group your loved one will be placed in. This information will help you and your parents decide whether Veterans benefits are the best coverage choice for their situation.