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VHA Office of Community Care

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Veterans Choice Program

If you are eligible for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs, our goal is to provide you with the care you need in a VA facility. However, sometimes that isn’t possible: you may live too far from a VA facility, the specialist you need may not be available at your VA, or it may take too long for you to be seen at a VA facility. In those cases, you may be referred to a community provider through the Community Care program.

Community Care is care provided to eligible Veterans outside of the VA when VA facilities are not feasibly available. All VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) can use this program when needed. The use of non-VA medical care is governed by federal laws containing eligibility criteria and other policies specifying when and why it can be used.

In most cases, having VA pay for community care requires pre-authorization. And, any care needed or recommended beyond the scope of that authorization must be approved by the VA facility that authorized the care.

In the event of an emergency, when a VA facility is not the nearest medical facility, do not delay treatment by attempting to request VA payment authorization first. Instead, proceed to the nearest emergency room to get the care you need. Emergency events may be reimbursed on behalf of the Veteran in certain cases. A medical emergency is generally defined as a condition of such a nature that a prudent layperson would reasonably expect a delay in seeking immediate medical attention to be hazardous to life or health.

Visit Veterans Choice Program for more information.

Resources

Fact Sheet 20-01: Overview of Community Care
A one-page information document that provides background information on the Community Care program.

Fact Sheet 20-02: Emergency Care
Document explaining what VA might be able to do for you if you need emergency care and it is not possible for you to go to a VA Medical Center.

Fact Sheet 20-05: Ambulance Transport at VA Expense–A Guide for Veterans
Information on payment and authorization critieria for ambulance transport.

Veterans Choice Program
VA website containing information about Veterans Choice Program benefits and eligibility.

VA Health Benefits
VA website containing information about VA health care benefits and eligibility.

Veterans Health Benefits Overview
A guide for Veterans and their families with the information they need to understand the VA health care system.

Health Benefits Explorer
Answer a few questions about your military service to learn about the VA health care benefits you could receive as an enrolled Veteran.