In an ongoing effort to expand eligibility and ease of access to the Veterans Choice Program, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced several changes to their operations. Before the recent changes, veterans were only eligible if they were enrolled in VA healthcare, experienced a geographic or health-related travel burden, and lived more than 40 miles from the closest VA medical facility.
Under the new changes, veterans must still be enrolled in the VA health care system, but only have to meet one of the following criteria.
- Have been told they cannot obtain an appointment with their physician either by the date stated as necessary by the physician or within 30 days of the veteran’s appointment request.
- Live more than 40 miles driving distance from the nearest VA medical facility that has a full-time primary care physician on staff.
- Need to travel by air or watercraft to the closest VA medical facility.
- Face an excessive travel burden due to geographic location, environmental factors, health-related challenges, or the necessary frequency of appointments.
- Live in a state or territory without a full-service VA medical facility (Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and U.S. Territories excluding Puerto Rico).
This change in eligibility is expected to expand the use of the Veterans Choice Program to several thousand more veterans and improve the overall quality of healthcare options coming from the VA. In a little over a year since the program began, more than 400,000 appointments have been made through the Veterans Choice Program.
The Veterans Choice Program allows veterans to see private physicians and specialists outside of the VA health care network when they are unable to obtain timely or convenient care at their local VA health care facility. The program is especially helpful to veterans in rural areas, or those who live near highly utilized VA hospitals with long appointment wait times.
You May Quality for Additional Help through Veterans’ Disability Benefits
Veterans who suffer from medical conditions related to their military service may be eligible for additional compensation. To file a claim for veterans’ disability benefits, or to appeal a denied or low disability rating, call us at 855-855-8992 or contact us online to schedule a consultation regarding your rights and options.