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VA - Health Care - Basic Medical Benefits Package for Veterans

Disability Assistance > VA - Health Care - Basic Medical Benefits Package for Veterans


Program Description:

Veterans Medical Care Benefits provide outpatient medical services, hospital care, medicines, and supplies to eligible veterans. To receive health care, veterans generally must be enrolled in the VA health system. They may apply for enrollment at any time. Veterans do not have to be enrolled in the VA health system if they have service-connected disabilities of 50 percent or more, want care for a disability that the military determined was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or want care for a service-connected disability only. Veterans with service-connected disabilities living or traveling overseas must register with the Foreign Medical Program regardless of the degree of disability.


General Program Requirements:

This article addresses basic eligibility for veterans?? health care. The majority of other VA health care services listed in Govbenefits.gov are dependent on basic eligibility as shown in this entry.

Eligibility for most veterans?? health care benefits is based solely on active military service in one of the seven uniformed services. These services are:

  • The Army
  • The Navy
  • The Air Force
  • The Marine Corps
  • The Coast Guard
  • The Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service
  • The Commissioned Officer Corps of the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Reservists and National Guard members who were called to active duty by a Federal Executive Order ordinarily qualify for VA health care benefits. Merchant Marines who served during World War II and former cadets of the military Service Academies may be eligible as well.

Some other groups may be eligible for some health benefits, see:

You must have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. If your separation papers indicate your service was other than honorable, VA must study your service records to see if you qualify.

There??s no special requirement regarding the length of your military service if you entered before the 1980s. If you first entered active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980, or as an officer after October 16, 1981, then you probably have to meet a minimum active duty requirement:

For reservists and Guard members who were called to federal active duty by an executive order, the usual requirement is that you served the full length of time you were ordered to serve. For all others, the usual requirement is 24 months of continuous service. There are a number of exceptions to these rules. Returning service members, (http://www.oefoif.va.gov/) including Reservists and National Guard members who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations, have special eligibility for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for five years following discharge from active duty.

Because of budget requirements, VA cannot offer health care to every veteran who meets these basic requirements. The law contains a complex system of priorities, mostly based on disability, income, and age.

To get started in determining your eligibility for VA health care benefits, go to: http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/eligibility/DetermineEligibility.asp





Loan Terms:

Not Applicable


Application Process:

For more information, see the Program Contact Information below.


Program Contact Information:

Health Benefits Service Center:

You can find us on the Web at:


Managing Agency:

Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

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