Eligible veterans: enroll in VA Health Care

With rising unemployment, health care costs going through the roof, and an aging population now realizing they are not immortal anymore, many veterans are looking to VA Health Care for the first time in their lives.

Enrollment into VAHC since Jan. 16, 2003, is based on several criteria. Sadly, not all veterans now qualify for VAHC. Prior to that date all eligible veterans could enroll regardless of income or disabilities. Those that enrolled prior to that date are basically “grandfathered” in the VAHC system.

The current guidelines for VAHC enrollment are as follows.

1. Fill out VA Form 10-10EZ.

2. VA Rated Service Connected Disability — veterans who are rated by the VA for any SCD may be enrolled in VAHC.

3. Special awards or circumstances — veterans with a Purple Heart, POW status, or Medal of Honor may be enrolled in VAHC.

4. Low-income veterans with income below a certain level may be enrolled in VAHC. (See below).

5. Hardship Enrollment — veterans with catastrophic circumstances such as sudden loss of income or severe health disabilities can request a hardship enrollment in VAHC, even if their previous year’s income was above the threshold. VAHC eligibility for these enrollments must be renewed each year.

Here is the enrollment financial thresholds for Archuleta County (2008 Figures):

Vet: $30,200.

Vet+1: $34,500.

Vet+2: $38,800.

Vet+3: $43,100.

Each additional dependent: $2,222.

Other requirements include a copy of the veteran’s DD214 and 24 continuous months of active service after Sept. 8, 1980. Military service prior to that date only requires at least one day of active duty. Reservists with active duty for six months for training purposes does not quality (special circumstances can apply). Discharge from active duty must be for “under other than Dishonorable conditions”.

Veterans only recently discharged from active duty from the current conflicts of war are eligible for five years of VAHC, regardless of income or disabilities.

VAHC enrolled veterans are placed in Priority classifications 1-8. Once enrolled veterans with less than 50 percent SCD and without any other special circumstances may be required to provide an annual financial “Means Test” report on VA form 10-10 EZR.

VA Health Care is a provider of medical services and is “not an insurer.” No insurance premiums are charged and those enrolled may or may not be required to pay co-pays, depending on their enrollment “priority” status.

I strongly urge all eligible veterans to enroll in VA Health Care, even if you have employer’s health insurance or Medicare, etc. You never know when other health insurance circumstances can change.

Remember, there is no charge for applying for any VA benefit, and that includes VAHC enrollment, so you can’t beat the price!

Stop by this office for further information or enrollment assistance.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC Van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays — call Mike Dunaway 247-2198 — and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays — call Harriet Mulnix (505) 793-1782.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center. The office number is 731-3837, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.