I was under the impression that I was eligible for free crumby health care for a few years after getting back from a deployment. But I just got a bill from the VA.
Does that mean that even with the highest priority one can only be eligible for crumby health care that you have to pay for?
If you're eligible because of a service connected disability do you still have to pay for it?
First, I find the VA care to be top rate. I get the same level of care that I would at the academic medical center the VA is attached to, and have had no issues with my care.
As for why you received a bill, more information is needed. When did you complete deployment, is the VA aware that you served in Iraq or Afghanistan? Have you talked to the VA about the bill, as sometimes they do bill by mistake.
And the VA is not free for everyone. You might look at the co-payment rules. Priority level is the basis for costs. The costs are still low as compared to private care.
Thanks for the response.
I think it just seems "crumby" to me because the VA hospital in my area is swamped. It's really hard to get anybody to answer the phone, and you have to wait ages to get an appointment. The only problem is the waiting, but it's a pretty big problem. I've been in the system since November and I've only been able to get one appointment so far.
Anyway, I had spoken to somebody on the phone and they had said my appointment would only be free if it was related to my deployment. Eventually they did call back and say that they would remove the charge.
I had always said that my problem wasn't caused by the deployment specifically, but that it might have been worsened by it. The way they explained it to me when I enrolled, that should be enough, but is it? I'd hate to billed retrospectively three years from now and have to pay a bunch of late fees.
They should not bill you for anything for the period after deployment that the VA is providing returning soldier and sailors. There are not late fees. You are entitled to free health care.
From the VA site.
Welcome home and thank you for your service to our country! VA is ready to provide health care and more to our newest veterans returning from the armed services. Here are some of the benefits VA provides that you need to know about:
Health Care Eligibility for 5 years — Enroll for health care at any VA Medical Center or clinic for 5 years following your military separation date. When you enroll, you may start receiving your health care at the VA right away, or not - the choice is yours! Once you enroll, the VA will be available to help serve your health care needs for years to come - but you must enroll within 5 years from separation!
Dental Benefits — We provide dental examinations and benefits to veterans with service related dental conditions. You may be eligible for one-time dental care but you must apply for a dental exam within the first 180 days of your separation date. Visit the Office of Dentistry for more information.
OEF/OIF Programs — every VA Medical Center has a team ready to welcome OEF/OIF service members and help coordinate their care. Visit How Do I Get Help? for more information.
Federal Recovery Coordination Program — assists severely wounded, ill or injured recovering service members, veterans, and their families in accessing the care, services, and benefits provided through the various programs in the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, other federal agencies, states, as well as the private sector. Visit How Do I Get Help? for more information.
Primary Health Care for Veterans — We provide general and specialized health care to meet veterans' needs.
Additional Benefits — We provide additional, non-health related benefits which may include: financial benefits, home loans, vocational rehabilitation, education, and more. Visit the Veterans Benefits Administration for more information.
Returning Service Members (OEF/OIF)
It sounds like it was just a mistake that they billed me at all, but the lady I spoke to on the phone made it sound like being back from the deployment might make it free but might not.
I'm just paranoid about medical fees. I had a clinic bill me the wrong amount one time, and when they billed me for the difference five years later they added on 60 months of late fees or something like that. And then there's these $50,000 ambulance rides you here about.
It's all so scary to me. Going to the doctor is like a negative lottery in which you have a small chance of losing millions of dollars.
Veterans Affairs mailed me medication I knew nothing about and sent me a bill for them as well.
Took alot of phone calls and emails but finally they acknowledged I shouldn't be billed for anything service related which is all I go there for. I never did take the pills.
I don't know why they even sent them to me.
You don't even have to go and see them to get bills from them.
I can relate to your situation. The VA hospital I go to is very swamped as well. It took about 4 months of 'being in the system' to actually get an appointment with a primary care provider.. so I ended up visiting the 'urgent care' department several times because it was my only option. As a medically retired vet (service-related), I never expected to get a bill in the mail from the VA. I did get several of them though, which I disputed month after month. It was all service-related, and I was a new OEF/OIF veteran, but still my 'unpaid bills' moved closer and closer to the VA's collections department. Finally about 6 months later, my VA disability claim got approved at a 60% rating. All of my bills were automatically erased, but if the claim decision had taken much longer the bills would have been in collections.
The 'patient advocates' and the 'OEF/OIF veterans transition office' are supposed to be able to get your bills erased, if they are in any way related to your service. It helps to have already filed a VA disability claim, or be in the process of filing.
I see that it's been a few months since you posted on this topic 'CrappyR'.. how are things going now with the bills/VA system for you?
Of course there is NOTHING free in this world. However, for those who qualify, some VA hospitals can be very helpful in providing quality care. The level of payments vary as some veterans can qualify for care at little or no cost, yet others must pay a percentage of their care.
Be mindful that Regional Centers also vary in the quality of their disability assessments. This can result in some veterans getting better benefits than others.
The best advice is to secure the services of a high quality VSO. You can't fight the VA system yourself, that's for sure.
I feel that the VA Health system should be open to all service and ex-service men and women, no matter what they make or if they were wounded or not. We all put in our time, some enlisted and some were drafted, but we all put in our time.
I have many problems that I feel are related to Agent Orange but because they are not as of yet on the list, I cannot get help from the VA. I have Ins. through my wifes employer but the scripts and deductions are killing us because I am disabled and go to three different doctors and take many scripts. That does not include what my wife takes for her many health problems. It just all adds up.
Anyway I just think it should be open to all Vets. I know the cost is great but they don't seem to mind spending the money when they send us into harms way. Stop giving money away to the rich companys and use it to take care of those who keep them free.
uncducks it was provided at no charge to all veterans until about 1988. It changed while the first George Bush was in office. Whether this was the result of a new law he signed or it was part of the law signed by Reagan, just before he left office, changing the VA to a cabinet level angency I don't remember.
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