VA Palo Alto Health Care System
VA Rolls Out Choice Card Program
On August 7, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Veterans Choice Act which helps some Veterans get health care in their local community. After careful evaluation, the VA has identified an estimated nine million Veterans nationwide who may be eligible, and created the Veterans Choice Program. The program is currently being implemented, and by the end of January 2015, eligible Veterans should receive a Veterans Choice Card. While this patient-centered approach gives Veterans more control of their health care, the program is voluntary and Veterans can choose to stay within the VA.
Before the card can be used, Veterans must meet the following test of eligibility:
- Have you been told by your local VA medical facility that you will need to wait more than 30 days from your preferred date or the date medically determined by your physician? OR
- Is your current residence more than 40 miles from the closest VA health care facility? OR
- Do you need to travel by plane or boat to the VA medical facility closest to your home? OR
- Does a geographic challenge, such as extensive distances around water or other geologic formations, such as mountains, present a significant travel hardship?
If any of these questions were answered yes, the next step would be to confirm eligibility by calling 866-606-8198. Callers should be prepared to provide any other health insurance coverage, such as employer or union-provided health plans, so the VA can assess coverage responsibilities. Without proper approval, Veterans may be responsible for some or all of the costs of the non-VA treatment received.
Schedulers at VA Palo Alto Health Care System are currently being trained to notify Veterans who may become eligible under the 30-day rule. If not currently eligible, Veterans are still encouraged to hold on to the card.
Want to learn more? Visit the Choice Act website for detailed information about this new program and the new law.