Haven’t Enrolled in VA Health Care Yet? Find Out How.

Wondering if you qualify for VA health care benefits? Receiving your healthcare through VA offers numerous advantages, including low to no co-pays based on income and exemption from the federal health insurance requirement. And once you’re enrolled in VA care, you can use VA’s new mobile app you can conveniently access telehealth, message your doctor, and refill your prescriptions. If you’ve been on the fence about applying for VA care, maybe this will help: veterans who receive care from VA versus a private provider report higher satisfaction across the board. 

Wondering how to get started?

Eligibility Criteria

If you entered service before Sep. 7, 1980, you’re eligible. If you enlisted after that or entered active duty after October. 6, 1981, you’ll need to have served for 24 continuous months to be eligible. (Although if you were discharged due to service-related disability, hardship, or early discharge, you’re exempt from that 24-month requirement.) If you served in Vietnam, you’re also eligible. And if you’re a current or former Reserves or National Guard member, you qualify if you completed the full tour for which you were called to active duty.

You’ll also need to have an honorable discharge to be eligible. If you received other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge, you might not be eligible, but there are still ways you might qualify. Consider applying for an upgrade discharge.

Gaining Higher Priority

You might move closer to the front of the line by being placed into a higher priority group. VA explains that being in a higher priority group ensures that veterans who need care right away can sign up quickly. At least one of these must apply to you in order to move to a higher priority group:

You receive financial compensation (payments) from VA for a service-connected disability You were discharged for a disability resulting from something that happened to you in the line of duty You were discharged for a disability that got worse in the line of duty You’re a combat Veteran discharged or released on or after September 11, 2001
 You get a VA pension You’re a former prisoner of war (POW) You have received a Purple Heart You have received a Medal of Honor You get (or qualify for) Medicaid benefits You served in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War between August 2, 1990, and November 11, 1998 You served at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987  

If none of these apply, you may still qualify based on your income. Find out if you’re eligible for free or reduced cost health care.

Ready to apply?

Apply online. The online form is quick and relatively painless, but if you need to talk with someone about it, you can call VA’s health benefits hotline at 877-222-8387. Don’t forget that Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) can also help you apply if you need more assistance or aren’t getting the answers you’re looking for. Check out the Find a VSO link in VetsApp under the “More” menu at the bottom of the home screen, or visit VA’s VSO website.