We reported last week that the VA was not going to make its November 5th deadline for issuing the new Veterans’ Choice Cards. While they didn’t quite meet the deadline, they did come close. VA Secretary McDonald announced on November 5th that the VA has contracted with 2 private health care companies to oversee the Veterans’ Choice Program and that the VA will start sending the Choice Cards out to the first group of eligible veterans. He also emphasized 2 important things to remember:
1. The Choice Cards are a TEMPORARY benefit (this program is due to be phased out in 3 years or when the $10 billion in allocated funds run out, whichever comes first).
2. The Choice Cards do NOT replace your VA/military ID cards that you currently use to receive health care. Make sure you keep your ID card.
The VA will issue the cards in 3 phases. The first Choice Cards are now being sent to those veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility, along with a letter explaining eligibility. Veterans currently waiting more than 30 days for an appointment will be the next group to receive the cards and letters. The final group of cards and letters will be sent between December 2014 and January 2015 and will include veterans enrolled in the VA Healthcare System who may be eligible to use the Choice program in the future.
For a refresher course in how the Veterans’ Choice Cards work and what the benefits are, please go to our article from August 11. If you have questions about whether you are eligible for the Choice Program, visit www.va.gov/opa/choiceact.