The Veterans Choice Program is part of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. It is a health care plan available for veterans who already have a VA health care plan. It is available to veterans who have to wait longer than 30 days to be examined by a doctor and/or have to travel more than 40 miles for treatment at a VA medical facility. There are other veterans who may qualify as well. For example, those individuals who can only travel to a VA center via plane or water vessel, have certain health needs, or face other limiting factors. In addition, the plan covers veterans who live in Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire (with certain restrictions), or a territory of the United States where the VA medical facilities do not offer comprehensive services.
If this describes your situation, you may be eligible to receive alternative care. This should help insure that the services and benefits that service members, veterans, and their families have earned.
Goals of the Veteran’s Choice Program
The goal of this program is to provide high-quality care to veterans in a timely manner. It specifically targets the following areas of concern:
- Lack of available specialists
- Excessive wait times
- The distance needed to travel to obtain proper care.
Being a part of the Choice Program will not change your other VA benefits. The benefits are combined, and you do not have to choose between one or the other. You can still visit a doctor at a VA medical center while also arranging to see a doctor in the Choice Program.
Contact the VA
It is easy to find out if you qualify for the Veterans Choice Program. First, visit this website: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apps/choice/. Here, you will be asked a few questions pertaining to your current health care situation. The site will let you know if you qualify as soon as you have completed the questionnaire.
On the Veterans Choice Program website, you can search for available providers in your area. So, if you qualify for the program and want to which alternative doctors in your area are covered under the plan, you can easily search via the map tool.
Next, you need to schedule an appointment by calling 866-606-8198. The operator will ask you to provide your name and contact information, as well as the doctor you would like to visit in your area. They will also confirm your eligibility and help you to get the prompt service you need. Since each appointment needs to be scheduled in advance through this system, emergency care is not included in the Choice Program.
Please note that if you do not qualify for the Choice Program and still visit a doctor outside of the VA network, you may have to pay completely out of pocket for any services, procedures, and prescriptions. If you would like to visit a doctor that is not part of the Choice Program, they can apply to join the network.
All veterans who qualify will be given a Choice Card, but not all care will be available through the Choice Care programs at any given time. These cards have been issued since the end of 2014. Veterans are asked to seek verification of their eligibility from Health Net regarding reimbursement of costs associated with care to veterans.
Once you are enrolled in the Choice Program, the methods for obtaining prescriptions will be slightly different. After your non-VA doctor writes your prescription, you will have access to a supply of no more than 14 days. You can have this filled at a non-VA pharmacy. If you need a prescription after the 14 days, you need to follow standard VA procedures for obtaining the medication refill. If you spend money out of pocket at the non-VA pharmacy, you can fill out a reimbursement form.
If you’d like additional information, you can go to www.va.gov/opa/choiceact or http://www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/factsheets_and_details.asp.
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