The Choice Card
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results,” Winston Churchill
The Choice Card is here and so is the catch. The catch, they use a straight-line distance. Please don’t try and drive to the nearest VA in a straight-line use the roads.
Here’s the fact sheet and here’s an excerpt:
“ What are the criteria used to determine the 40 mile radius? Is it similar to the Dashboard used to calculate mileage reimbursement?
A: VA will calculate the distance between a Veteran’s residence and the nearest VA medical facility using a straight-line distance, rather than the driving distance. VA is developing an interactive tool that will be available on va.gov beginning in early November for Veterans to determine their potential eligibility for the Choice Program based on their place of residence. Veterans will enter their address information into the tool, and the tool will calculate their distance to the nearest site of VA care, and provide that mileage and information on their eligibility for the Choice Program to the Veteran online. “
The important thing below is it says all enrolled veterans will get the card in case in the future they may be eligible. So just because you get a Choice card in the mail doesn’t mean you are eligible. Pay attention to the section on How To Get Started.
About the Choice Program
Many Veterans will now have the option to receive non-VA health care rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility.
Beginning November 5, 2014, the new Choice Program will begin to cover non-VA care for eligible Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare. Veterans are eligible if any of these situations apply to you:
- You have been told by your local VA medical facility that you will need to wait more than 30 days from your preferred date or the date medically determined by your physician
- Your current residence is more than 40 miles from the closest VA health care facility
- You need to travel by plane or boat to the VA medical facility closest to your home
- You face an unusual or excessive burden in traveling to a VA medical facility based on the presence of a body of water (including moving water and still water) or a geologic formation that cannot be crossed by road
Every Veteran will receive a letter and a Choice Card in the mail with details about the program. Veterans will be eligible for the program and receive cards in three phases:
- Veterans who may live more than 40 miles from a VA facility.
- Veterans who are currently waiting for an appointment longer than 30 days from their preferred date or the date determined to be medically necessary by their physician.
- All remaining Veterans enrolled for VA healthcare who may be eligible for the Choice Program in the future.
To set up an appointment with a non-VA provider, call the VA at 866-606-8198 and we will work with you to ensure you are approved for care in your community.
How to Get Started
To get started, you’ll need to pick a non-VA provider, gather some info and give us a call in order to set up an appointment. We will work with you to ensure you are approved for care in your community and schedule you with a local care provider of your choosing.
Steps to Getting an Appointment
- Decide which non-VA health care provider you would like to use.
Search the list of approved care providers in your community.
- Make sure you have information on hand about any other health insurance coverage you may have.
- Call 1-866-606-8198 to make sure you qualify + schedule an appointment.
When you call, we will walk you through the following steps:
- You will be asked to enter your ZIP code, and first and last name.
- We will check to make sure you are eligible for this program.
- We will check which of your needs are covered by the VA.
- You will be asked for your address and the name of your preferred non-VA provider. Unfortunately, not all providers will be covered so if your preferred provider is not available, we will recommend other providers in your area.
- We will then work with you to schedule an appointment.
This hotline is exclusively for making sure you are eligible for the Choice Program and setting up a non-VA care appointment. If you have questions about other aspects of your VA medical care or want to learn more about enrolling in VA health services, please call 1-877-222-VETS or visit www.va.gov/health.