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VA private health insurance billing

VA is required to bill private health insurance providers for medical care, supplies and prescriptions provided for treatment of veterans’ non-service-connected conditions. Generally, VA cannot bill Medicare, but can bill Medicare supplemental health insurance for covered services.

All veterans applying for VA medical care are required to provide information on their health insurance coverage, including coverage provided under policies of their spouses. Veterans are not responsible for paying any remaining balance of VA’s insurance claim not paid or covered by their health insurance, and any payment received by VA may be used to offset“dollar for dollar” a veteran’s VA copay responsibility.

Reimbursement of travel costs

Certain veterans may be provided special mode travel (e.g. wheelchair van, ambulance) or reimbursed for travel costs when traveling for approved VA medical care. Reimbursement is paid at 41.5 cents per mile and is subject to a deductible of $3 for each one-way trip and $6 for a round trip; with a maximum deductible of $18 or the amount after six one-way trips (whichever occurs first) per calendar month. Two exceptions to the deductible are travel in relation to a VA compensation or pension examination and travel requiring a special mode of transportation. The deductibles may be waived when their imposition would cause a severe financial hardship.

Eligibility: The following are eligible for VA travel:

1. Veterans whose service-connected disabilities are rated 30 percent or more.

2. Veterans traveling for treatment of service-connected conditions.

3. Veterans who receive a VA pension.

4. Veterans traveling for scheduled compensation or pension examinations.

5. Maximum annual VA pension rate.

6. Certain veterans in certain emergency situations.

7. Veterans whose medical condition requires a special mode of transportation, if they are unable to defray the costs and travel is pre-authorized. Advance authorization is not required in an emergency if a delay would be hazardous to life or health.

8. Certain non-veterans when related to care of a veteran (attendants & donors).

VA Medical Programs Veteran Health Registries

Certain veterans can participate in a VA health registry and receive free medical examinations, including laboratory and other diagnostic tests deemed necessary by an examining clinician. VA maintains health registries to provide special health examinations and health-related information. To participate, contact the nearest VA health care facility or visit

Gulf War Registry: For veterans who served in the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

Depleted Uranium Registries: VA maintains two registries for veterans possibly exposed to depleted uranium. The first is for veterans who served in the Gulf War, including Operation Iraqi Freedom. The second is for veterans who served elsewhere, including Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Agent Orange Registry: For veterans possibly exposed to dioxin or other toxic substances in herbicides used during the Vietnam War, while serving in Korea in 1968 or 1969, or as a result of testing, transporting, or spraying herbicides for military purposes.

Ionizing Radiation Registry: For veterans possibly exposed to atomic radiation during the following activities: atmospheric detonation of a nuclear device; occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki from Aug. 6, 1945, through July 1, 1946; internment as a POW in Japan during World War II; serving in official military duties at the gaseous diffusion plants at Paducah, Ky., Portsmouth, Ohio, or the K-25 area at Oak Ridge, Tenn., for at least 250 days before Feb. 1, 1992; or in Longshot, Milrow or Cannikin underground nuclear tests at Amchitka Island, Alaska, before Jan. 1, 1974; or treatment with nasopharyngeal (NP) radium during military service.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198, and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays, call Harriet Mulnix, (505) 793-1782.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. 3rd Ave. Durango, CO 81301 (the old Mercy Medical Center). Phone number is 247-2214.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Blvd. The office number is 264-4013 and cell number is 946-6648. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.