Veterans and their family members are eligible to receive benefits from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA provides a wide range of medical benefits that are available to all veterans who are enrolled in their healthcare system. Eligibility for enrollment into the VA system depends on a number of factors. To enroll, veterans must complete an application.
What Are the Healthcare Benefits for Veterans?
The VA medical benefits package provides comprehensive preventive care services, diagnostic and treatment services, and medications and other supplies. These benefits are available in VA hospitals and clinics throughout the country.
VA preventative care services include:
- Physical exam and health assessments
- Screening tests
- Health education programs
- Counseling on the inheritance of diseases
VA diagnostic and treatment services include:
- Emergency inpatient and outpatient care in VA facilities
- Routine medical care
- Mental health care
- Substance abuse services
Medications and supplies available through the VA include:
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Medical and surgical supplies
Depending on a veteran’s eligibility and priority status, the cost for these services may require a co-payment.
Who Is Eligible?
Veterans who were actively enrolled in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard (or Merchant Marines during World War II) and were discharged under other-than-dishonorable conditions may be eligible for VA healthcare benefits. In addition, reservists for the National Guard who were called to active duty by a Federal Executive Order may qualify for VA benefits. Healthcare is available from the VA to many more veterans than just those who served in combat or who had service-connected injuries or medical conditions.
However, determining one’s priority for assistance under the VA program is complex. There are a number of procedures to follow to find out your priority level.
The VA conducts an annual enrollment system for the health benefits program. Veterans who have service-connected disabilities and those below the low-income threshold are prioritized for enrollment.
After that, eligibility for the VA’s healthcare benefits depends on a number of factors, including:
- The nature of the veteran’s discharge (honorable, other than honorable, or dishonorable)
- Length of service
- Available VA resources
How Do I Apply?
To receive the benefits offered through the VA’s healthcare package, veterans must be enrolled in the VA healthcare system. To enroll, you must fill out an application, called the VA Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits.
The application will be used to determine whether your service qualifies for VA benefits and whether your veteran status places you in one of the priority groups eligible for healthcare.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Health Benefits Program—Veteran Affairs Canada
2014 copay requirements at a glance. Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: http://www.va.gov/HEALTHBENEFITS/resources/publications/IB10-431_copay_requirements_at_a_glance.pdf. Updated January 2016. Accessed May 19, 2016.
Health benefits. Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits. Updated May 3, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2016.
Medical benefits package. Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/access/medical_benefits_package.asp. Updated March 8, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2016.
Priority groups table. Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/resources/priority_groups.asp. Updated December 31, 2015. Accessed May 19, 2016.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 7/23/2014