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VAHC hardship enrollment and options explained

The following information is certainly timely with the current state of affairs in the U.S. economy. Unemployment is nearing 10 percent, which could theoretically affect one out of every 10 veterans.

For many, when you lose your job, you will probably lose your health care! Not exactly the best position to be in as you age and suffer from new medical issues. If you haven’t been to hospital emergency lately or suffered from a long term illness, the cost of medical care will send you into shock and possibly bankrupt you.

VA’s Medical Care Hardship program could help veterans qualify for VA enrollment for health care services if they had a recent change in their income, even if they were previously denied enrollment based on their household income. Veterans who have put off applying for VA enrollment because they thought their income was too high may want to reconsider applying if their projected current year’s income is lower. Hardship may be approved if the veteran’s current year income is substantially reduced from the prior year. Personal circumstances such as loss of employment, sudden decrease in income or increases in out-of-pocket veteran or family health care expenses factor into VA’s hardship determination.

If your projected year income is below the Means Test Threshold or Geographic Means Test Threshold, you may qualify for cost-free VA medical care. For additional information and qualifications for this assistance program, veterans should contact their local VA Medical Center Enrollment Coordinator. Find your local medical facility with the Facilities Locator. Veterans may also contact VA’s Health Benefits Service Center at (877) 222-8387. Check our Web page on Copays and Charges for further information on costs for VA health care services.

If you are a veteran currently enrolled and receiving VA health care services, but are now having problems with your VA health care debt, there are several programs that could provide assistance.

Hardship

VA can eliminate future health care debt and qualify veterans for health care without copays and enrollment based on their current year income even if they were previously denied enrollment based on their household income. Medical care hardship may be appropriate if the veteran’s current year income is substantially reduced from the prior year. Personal circumstances such as loss of employment, sudden decrease in income or increases in out-of-pocket veteran or family health care expenses factor into VA’s hardship determination. Veteran’s income information will be subject to verification.

If your projected year income is below the Means Test Threshold or Geographic Means Test Threshold, you may qualify for cost-free VA medical care.

Repayment plan

Veterans having a problem making copays may contact their VA health care facility to request that a repayment plan be established. If approved, the plan will result in a more affordable monthly payment by spreading their payments over a 12 month period of time. To avoid administrative charges, the veterans must establish a written payment plan within 30 days of the statement date. Veterans would need to notify their VA health care facility if they cannot make one of the monthly payments. If the veteran misses a payment and does not notify VA, the veteran will not able to use the repayment plan option again.

Compromise

Veterans who are unable to pay their debt in full or clear the debt in a reasonable timeframe through monthly payments, may request a compromise. A compromise means VA can accept a lesser amount of money as full settlement of the veteran’s debt. VA will consider both the current income and anticipated future income in making this determination. Most offers in compromise that are accepted must be for a lump sum payment payable in full 30 days from the date of the acceptance of the offer.

Waiver

VA can waive a veteran’s existing health care debt when there has been a job loss or significant decrease in income or the veteran has experienced significant expenses for funeral arrangements, veteran’s educational expenses or for medical care for the veteran or other family members. Waivers must be requested in writing within 180 days from the date of the statement on which the charge first appears. VA can also waive the Beneficiary Travel mileage reimbursement deductible for eligible veterans.

For additional information and qualifications for these specific assistance programs, veterans should contact their local VA Medical Center Enrollment Coordinator. Find your local medical facility with the Facilities Locator. Veterans may also contact VA’s Health Benefits Service Center at (877) 222-8387. Check our Web page on Copays and Charges for further information on costs for VA health care services.

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.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. 3rd Ave. Durango, CO 81301 (the old Mercy Medical Center). Phone?number is?247-2214.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Blvd. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.