Affordable Care Act…through the VA

IRONMOUNTAIN – The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched an awareness campaign and a new website, www.va.gov/aca, to let Veterans know what the Affordable Care Act means for them and their families.  Veterans receiving health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs will see no change in their benefits or out-of-pocket costs when portions of the Affordable Care Act take effect next year.

Jeanne Johnson, RN, Telehealth Coordinator at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center, preps a Veteran for a telehealth appointment with a VA specialist in Milwaukee.  The Iron Mountain-based medical center is a leader in rural telehealth medicine

Jeanne Johnson, RN, Telehealth Coordinator at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center, preps a Veteran for a telehealth appointment with a VA specialist in Milwaukee. The Iron Mountain-based medical center is a leader in rural telehealth medicine

“VA wants all Veterans to receive health care that improves their health and well-being,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

“VA encourages eligible Veterans who are not enrolled in VA’s health care system to take advantage of the world-class care we provide to the men and women who have served this Nation in uniform,” Shinseki added.

Locally, the Director for the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in IronMountain echoes the Secretary’s call and wants to make sure Veterans not enrolled in VA health care are aware of the services VA provides.

“Many Veterans may not be aware that the VA provides one of the most comprehensive health care systems in the nation that includes evidence-based primary and specialty care, mental health services, state of the art prosthetics and physical therapy, long term care, short term rehab, health promotion disease prevention classes, and transportation assistance all in one package,” said Jim Rice, Director of the Iron Mountain-based VA medical center.

Veterans can apply for VA health care at any time by visiting www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll, calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387), or visiting their local VA health care facility.  Full details on eligibility are available at

www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book

VA’s health care system for Veterans has no enrollment fee, no monthly premiums and no deductibles.  Most Veterans also have no out-of-pocket costs, though some may have small copayments for some health care or prescription drugs.

Rice also wants to make sure that the 26 thousand plus Veterans in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin already enrolled in VA health care know it meets the requirements of the health care law.

“For those Veterans already enrolled, they don’t need to do anything further in regards the Affordable Care Act,” said Rice.

The Affordable Care Act was created to expand access to coverage, reduce rising health care costs, and improve health care quality and care coordination.  The Affordable Care Act creates new opportunities for coverage for uninsured Veterans and their families.

There are more than 1.3 million Veterans and more than 950,000 spouses and children of Veterans without health insurance.  Most uninsured Veterans are eligible for VA health care.  For those who are not eligible for VA care – such as Veterans’ family members – the law created a new Health Insurance Marketplace.

For information about VA health care and the Affordable Care Act, VA encourages Veterans and family members to visit the new website at www.va.gov/aca, or call 1-877-222-VETS (8387), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. or Saturdays from 11a.m. to 3 p.m., Eastern Time.  The new website includes a Health Benefits Explorer, where Veterans can learn about the benefits they can receive if they enroll in VA care.

The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center annually serves 20 thousand Veterans at its main facility in Iron Mountain and at its seven community outpatient clinics located at Sault Ste. Marie, Manistique, Marquette, Hancock, Ironwood and Menominee, MI, and Rhinelander, WI.