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More on VA health care (Part 2)

Financial assessment.

Most veterans not receiving VA disability compensation or pension payments must provide information on their gross annual household income and net worth to determine whether they are below the annually adjusted financial thresholds. Veterans who decline to disclose their information or have income above the thresholds must agree to pay copays in order to receive certain health benefits, effectively placing them in Priority Group 8. VA is currently not enrolling new applicants who decline to provide financial information unless they have a special eligibility factor.

This financial assessment includes all household income and net worth, including Social Security, retirement pay, unemployment insurance, interest and dividends, workers’ compensation, black lung benefits and any other income. Also considered are assets such as the market value of property that is not the primary residence, stocks, bonds, notes, individual retirement accounts, bank deposits, savings accounts and cash.

VA also compares veterans’ financial assessment with geographically based income thresholds. If the veteran’s gross annual household income is above VA’s national means test threshold and below VA’s geographic means test threshold, or is below both the VA national threshold and the VA geographically based threshold, but their gross annual household income plus net worth exceeds VA’s ceiling (currently $80,000), the veteran may be eligible for Priority Group 7 placement and qualify for an 80-percent reduction in inpatient copay rates.

VA medical services and medication copays

Some veterans must make copays to receive VA health care and/or medications.

Inpatient Care: Priority Group 7 and certain other veterans are responsible for paying 20 percent of VA’s inpatient copay or $213.60 for the first 90 days of inpatient hospital care during any 365-day period. For each additional 90 days, the charge is $106.80. In addition, there is a $2 per diem charge. Priority Group 8 and certain other veterans are responsible for VA’s inpatient copay of $1,068 for the first 90 days of care during any 365-day period. For each additional 90 days, the charge is $534. In addition, there is a $10 per diem charge.

Extended care: For extended care services, veterans may be subject to a copay determined by information supplied by completing a VA Form 10-10EC. VA social workers can help veterans interpret their eligibility and copay requirements. The copay amount is based on each veteran’s financial situation and is determined upon application for extended care services and will range from $0 to $97 a day.

Medication: Most veterans are charged $8 for each 30-day or less supply of medication provided by VA for treatment of conditions that are not service-connected. For veterans enrolled in Priority Groups 2 through 6, the maximum copay for medications that will be charged is $960. The following groups of veterans are not charged medication copays: veterans with a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more; veterans receiving medication for service-connected conditions; veterans whose annual income does not exceed the maximum annual rate of the VA pension; veterans enrolled in Priority Group 6 who receive medication under their special authority; veterans receiving medication for conditions related to sexual trauma related to service on active duty; certain veterans receiving medication for treatment of cancer of the head or neck; veterans receiving medication for a VA-approved research project; and former POWs.

Note: Copays apply to prescription and over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, cough syrup or vitamins, dispensed by a VA pharmacy. However, veterans may prefer to purchase over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin or vitamins, at a local pharmacy rather than making the copay. Copays are not charged for medications injected during the course of treatment or for medical supplies, such as syringes or alcohol wipes.

Outpatient care: A three-tiered copay system is used for all outpatient services. The copay is $15 for a primary care visit and $50 for some specialized care. Certain services are not charged a copay.

Outpatient visits not requiring copays: Copays do not apply to publicly announced VA health fairs or outpatient visits solely for preventive screening and/or immunizations, such as immunizations for influenza and pneumococcal, or screening for hypertension, hepatitis C, tobacco, alcohol, hyperlipidemia, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer by fecal occult blood testing, education about the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening, and weight reduction or smoking cessation counseling (individual and group). Laboratory, flat film radiology, electrocardiograms, and hospice care are also exempt from copays.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays, call (505) 239-2769, and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays, call (505) 793-2915 or (505) 325-4775.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. 3rd Ave., Durango, CO 81301 (The old Mercy Medical Center). The phone?number is?(970) 247-2214.

Further information

For information on these and other veteran’s 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, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is

The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.

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