Enroll now in VA health-care system

The Veterans Administration’s Contracted Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Durango has highly knowledgeable staff members to serve all primary health-care needs and has openings for more veterans to receive free or low-cost primary health care.

The VA provides a medical-benefits package of health services that is available to all enrolled veterans. The benefits include preventive-care services, hospital services, prescription drugs, home health-care services, long-term care benefits and nursing-home benefits.

The VA administers medical benefits through an annual patient enrollment system. The VA’s goal is to ensure that veterans receive the finest quality of health care regardless of the treatment program and location. The VA encourages all veterans to apply so that they can determine their eligibility. Applying helps the VA determine the number of potential veterans who may seek VA health-care services and is an important part of VA planning efforts.

If you are one of the many veterans reaching retirement age and now on Medicare, a veteran without health insurance or just out of the service and having a difficult time finding a primary-care provider, then VA health care may be an option for you. VA health care is available to all veterans discharged under honorable conditions. There is no time limit to apply, and combat service is not a requirement. If you served honorably in the armed forces, no matter when and where, you can apply for VA health-care benefits.

Because VA health care is considered creditable coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act, now is a good time to apply for enrollment in this program. Enrollment in the VA health-care system provides veterans with a safety net against being fined or penalized under the Affordable Health Care Act for not having any form of health insurance. This is a great thing for veterans who cannot afford to purchase health-care coverage.

Veterans currently enrolled in the VA health-care system must be seen at least once a year to maintain enrollment. If you are not seen by the VA once a year, you will be required to re-enroll in the VA health-care system before the VA will provide any health-care services. This is important to remember because for those who cannot afford to purchase additional health insurance, loss of VA health-care benefits means the loss of your health-care safety net.

Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or schleeterrs@co.laplata.co.us.