About VA health benefits
If you qualify for VA health care, you’ll receive coverage for the services you need to help you get—and stay—healthy. Learn more about your health care benefits.
What care and services does VA health care cover?
Each Veteran’s medical benefits package is unique. Yours will include care and services to help:
- Treat illnesses and injuries
- Prevent future health problems
- Improve your ability to function
- Enhance your quality of life
All Veterans receive coverage for most care and services, but only some will qualify for added benefits like dental care. The full list of your covered benefits depends on:
- Your priority group, and
- The advice of your VA primary care provider (your main doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant), and
- The medical standards for treating any health conditions you may have
You should also know that being signed up for VA health care meets your Affordable Care Act (ACA) health coverage requirement of having “minimum essential health coverage.” We’ll update this site if the ACA changes with new laws.
Learn more about the ACA, VA, and you
Note: We want to make sure you understand how we use and disclose your medical information and how to access your information yourself. Download our notice of privacy practices (PDF)
What if I’m just separating from active duty and don’t know where to start?
We can help you learn about and apply for VA health care benefits. We can answer any questions you may have, process your application over the phone, and help you schedule your first VA medical appointment.
More about your medical benefits package
We cover preventive care services, like:
- Health exams (including gender-specific exams)
- Health education (including nutrition education)
- Immunization against infectious diseases (like flu shots)
- Counseling on genetic diseases (diseases that run in families)
We cover inpatient hospital services, like:
- Medical treatments
- Kidney dialysis
- Acute care (short-term treatment for a severe illness or injury or after surgery)
- Specialized care (including organ transplants, intensive care for mental and physical conditions, and care for traumatic injuries)
Review more VA medical and surgical specialty care services
We cover urgent and emergency care services, like:
- Urgent or emergency care at some VA health facilities.
Find a VA health facility near you
- Urgent care for injuries and illnesses that need attention right away, but aren’t life threatening, at urgent care locations that are part of our contracted network. This may include care at a VA-approved:
- Walk-in retail health clinic for minor illnesses like a sore throat or earache
- Urgent care facility for more pressing (but not life-threatening) illnesses or injuries that require treatment like splinting, casting, or wound care
To use these services, you’ll need to be enrolled in VA health care, and you’ll need to have received care from us within the past 24 months. Be sure to tell the urgent care provider that you’re using the VA urgent care benefit when you arrive.
Learn more about urgent care
Get advice on choosing between urgent and emergency care
- Emergency care in a non-VA hospital, clinic, or other medical setting—only under certain conditions. For us to consider covering non-VA emergency care for a non-service-connected condition, you’ll need to meet several requirements.
Learn more about non-VA emergency medical care
We cover other services and needs, like:
- Mental health services to treat certain issues like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma (MST), depression, and substance use problems.
Learn more about mental health services
- Assisted living and home health care (depending on your needs and income as well as space in the programs).
Learn more about assisted living and home health care
- Prescriptions written or approved by a VA doctor.
Refill your prescriptions
We may cover services that your VA primary care provider concludes you need to support your treatment (called ancillary services), like:
- Tests used to diagnose health conditions, including blood work, X-rays, and ultrasounds
- Therapy and rehabilitation services, including physical therapy, vision rehab, and therapy for traumatic brain injury
- Additional services, including prosthetic items, audiology (care for hearing loss), and radiation oncology (cancer care)
You may be able to get help with some non-medical services, like:
Contact the patient advocate at the VA medical center where you go for care. Your patient advocate can help you get foreign language or American Sign Language services to help you or your family members understand your medical or health care benefits.
To find out how to reach the patient advocate at your VA medical center, go to the website of the VA health care system that the medical center is part of. In the page’s navigation, click on “Patients & Visitors.” A submenu will appear. Select “Patient Information” and then “Customer Service.”
Find your medical center’s website
These services aren’t included in the VA medical benefits package under current regulations:
- Cosmetic surgery, unless we conclude that it’s medically necessary (needed to prevent or treat a certain illness, injury, condition, disease, or symptoms)
- Gender-affirming surgical interventions
Learn more about gender-affirming surgery regulations on our patient care website
- Health club or spa membership
- Inpatient hospital or outpatient care if you’re a patient or inmate in a non-VA government agency institution, if that agency must provide the care or services by law
- Medicines and medical devices that aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Exception: You can get VA health care for medicines and medical devices that aren’t approved by the FDA if you’re in an approved clinical trial. This exception also applies if you’re seriously ill and your VA health care provider prescribes a new, unapproved medicine because there are no other comparable treatment options (called a compassionate use or expanded access exemption).
We’ll fill prescriptions by a non-VA community provider only if you meet all these requirements.
All of these must be true:
- You’re enrolled in VA health care
- You have an assigned VA primary care provider
- You’ve given your VA provider your medical records from your non-VA provider
- Your VA provider agrees with the prescription
This will depend on factors like your income level, disability rating, and military service history. Most Veterans need to complete a financial assessment when they enroll. This helps us determine if you qualify for free VA health care.
At VA, we take a team approach to health care—with you at the center. Research shows this kind of approach leads to better quality care, more satisfied patients, and fewer hospital visits.
Find out who will care for you when you become part of the VA health care program
When you sign up for VA health care, you become part of the country’s largest integrated health care system—with more than 1,200 care locations serving nearly 9 million Veterans each year.
Learn more about where you’ll get care
If you have other forms of health care coverage (like a private insurance plan, Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE), you can use VA health care benefits along with these plans.
Learn more about how VA works with other health insurance
If you’re an eligible American Indian or Alaska Native Veteran
When you receive care through an Indian Health Service facility or Tribal Health facility that has a reimbursement agreement with us:
- You don’t need us to approve (or “preauthorize”) your care before you get treated, and
- You don’t need to pay a VA copay
If you live in Alaska
You may be able to receive care through an Indian Health Service facility or Tribal Health facility even if you’re not an eligible American Indian or Alaska Native Veteran.
But, you’ll need to get preauthorization before you receive care, and you may need to pay a copay for your care.