Health Care Issues for Veterans
As of September 2015, there were almost twenty-two million veterans living in the United States. A small percentage of these veterans have seen combat, and a much larger group have supported that combat effort. Almost all veterans, depending upon their character of discharge, qualify for education loans, home loans, and burial benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”).
Notably, “[t]he VA is the largest provider of health care in the United States and administers the nation’s second largest federal disability program.” Many individuals are under the false assumption that all veterans are provided health care by the VA. Access to VA health benefits requires the veteran to fill out an enrollment application, and some may have to complete a financial assessment to establish whether the veteran is eligible for health care and what, if anything, the veteran will contribute financially for these benefits. Eligibility requirements for health care benefits are fairly complicated and involve character of discharge, periods of service, income level, potential chemical exposures during service, awards and commendations, and service-connected disabilities. Not every veteran is eligible for the VA health care benefits, and many of those who are eligible are required to contribute financially for these health care benefits.