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VA reaches out to veterans about the health care law

SUN Columnist

The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched an awareness campaign and a new website, www.va.gov/aca, to let veterans know what the Affordable Care Act means for them and their families.

Veterans receiving health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs will see no change in their benefits or out-of-pocket costs when portions of the Affordable Care Act take effect next year.

“VA wants all veterans to receive health care that improves their health and well-being,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  “If you are enrolled in VA health care, you do not need to take any additional steps to meet the health care law coverage standards.  If you are not enrolled in VA health care, you can apply at any time.”

“VA encourages eligible veterans who are not enrolled in VA’s health care system to take advantage of the world-class care we provide to the men and women who have served this nation in uniform,” Shinseki added.

Veterans can apply for VA health care at any time by visiting www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll, calling (877) 222-VETS or visiting their local VA health care facility.  Full details on eligibility are available at www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book

VA’s health care system for veterans has no enrollment fee, no monthly premiums and no deductibles.  Most veterans also have no out-of-pocket costs, though some may have small copayments for some health care or prescription drugs.

“VA will continue to provide veterans with high quality, comprehensive health care and other benefits they have earned through their service,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA’s chief physician and under secretary for health.

The Affordable Care Act was created to expand access to coverage, reduce rising health care costs, and improve health care quality and care coordination.  The Affordable Care Act creates new opportunities for coverage for uninsured veterans and their families.

There are more than 1.3 million veterans and more than 950,000 spouses and children of veterans without health insurance.  Most uninsured veterans are eligible for VA health care.  For those who are not eligible for VA care — such as veterans’ family members — the law created a new Health Insurance Marketplace.

In 2014, the marketplace will be a new way to shop for and purchase private health insurance.  People who purchase insurance through the marketplace may be able to lower the costs of health insurance coverage by paying lower monthly premiums.  For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov.

For information about VA health care and the Affordable Care Act, VA encourages veterans and family members to visit the new website at www.va.gov/aca, or call (877) 222-VETS, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. or Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Eastern time.  The new website includes a Health Benefits Explorer, where veterans can learn about the benefits they can receive if they enroll in VA care.

Your Veterans Service Officer

The Veterans Service Officer acts on behalf of veterans, families of veterans, or other designated persons for a veteran’s interests, to assist with information and applications for the Department of Veteran Affairs benefits and services, in which may include the Department of Defense.

This office assists with all veteran-related matters in the community, including citizens interested in veterans information and assistance ensuring privacy of personal information.

This includes assisting in determining the best course of action to maximize any and all VA benefits a veteran, or veteran-related person, may be entitled to; determine appropriate application processes for VA benefits and claims; assist in the completion of applications and forms to apply for benefits, including medical, military service and all other information required.

This office further assists veterans with VA Health Care questions or claims, and general information which affects the local veteran population.

Information

For further information on any VA Benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center, 451 Hot Springs Blvd.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office.

Meetings

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

American Legion Post 108: Second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa Street.

American Legion Post 108 Ladies Aux.: Second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Quality Suites.

Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: Every other Monday at 6 p.m., St. Patrick Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte: 731-1025.

Point Man Ministries Breakfast for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at Buffalo Inn, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd., Contact Vincent: (435) 618-0049 or Vfortunato777@gmail.com.

Contacts

Veterans for Veterans: 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

Farmington VA Center: (505) 327-9684.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.

This story was posted on August 22, 2013.