Illustration of hospital.

Check Into the Veterans Choice Program

Been waiting a long time for your VA appointment? Time to check into the Veterans Choice Program. Just remember to call first.

By VietNow National Magazine Staff

Are you tired of waiting for your next appointment at the VA? Are you worried that your condition is getting worse while waiting? Have the friendly people at your local VA medical facility told you that the waiting time for your next appointment will be more than thirty days? Do you live more than forty miles from the nearest VA health-care facility? Is there a body of water or a geologic formation that can’t be crossed by road that presents an unusual or excessive burden when you want to get to your nearest VA medical facility?

Do not just show up at a non-VA facility without a VA appointment.

If you are a veteran enrolled for care at the VA, and any of the above conditions apply to you, you are probably eligible to receive medical treatment at a medical facility outside the VA.

You can get treatment at a hospital outside the VA system

We’ve all heard the stories, and we all know veterans who have had to wait so long for their VA appointments and evaluations, that their condition worsened (or they just gave up) while waiting for their long-delayed appointments.

The VA has finally noticed the problem, and is doing something about it. As a result of the new Veterans Choice Program, the VA will now cover care for eligible veterans whose situation would result in long delays or result in difficulty getting treatment at their nearest VA facility. Basically, it means that if you have to wait more than thirty days beyond your preferred appointment time or thirty days beyond the date your VA physician has determined to be necessary, you can go to non-VA medical facility for your treatment.

Don’t start celebrating just yet – take a minute to call first!

Remember that you first have to meet the requirements specified in the first paragraph of this article. You also have to have your Choice Card, which the VA has been gradually mailing out since late 2014. And – here’s the big one – you have to call the VA before you go to an outside facility so they can determine if you actually are eligible for the particular kind of outside care you want or need.

Yes, you have to call first!

Non-VA care is only covered by the VA for medical needs which have been approved by your VA physician. The VA will help you schedule an appointment for other medical needs, but the VA will only cover the cost of care related to your VA-approved health-care needs.

Getting started – call first!

Call the VA at 1-866-606-8198 to get help with finding a health-care provider in your area approved by the VA. Be ready with information about any health insurance coverage you may have. Remember that your preferred provider may not be eligible. Once your eligibility is determined, the VA will help you schedule the appointment.

Call first!

Did we already say that? Yes, we did. Call first. Do not just show up at a non-VA facility without a VA appointment. Veterans ignoring this advice have been turned away, resulting in further delays. Veterans Choice is a really great deal. Just be sure you call first.