This is a valuable benefit.
Due to COVID-19, VA has cancelled millions of face-to-face appointments. This post is about using the new VA Urgent Care (UC) benefit. If eligible, bring a valid government ID card and go to a VA-Community Care Network UC/retail Clinic (CCN)–without an appointment – but call to confirm CCN status first. You don’t need to pay. *
Tell UC staff you want to use your VA UC benefit; they may not know anything about it so print out cards or access on your mobile.
Information is scattered all over VA and Third Party Administrators (TPA) websites.
Veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system and have received care from a VA or in-network community provider in the past 24 months to use UC benefits.
# 1. Read the VA’s webpage on this benefit first; take some notes. # 2. Or read/print a clear copy of this fuzzy screenshot from the pdf.>>> (Link) # 3. Locate a VA-network provider (CNN) and call them before going.
#4. 🖥️ DIYers–Register with your TPA the via Self-service portals–Optum (Regions 1-3); TriWest (Regions 4-6) Takes just a few minutes. This enables you to see your eligibility for UC, status of your referrals, and care already received in the community. I would do this step NOW, before you need UC. Get familiar with these non-VA websites.
See also: CCN Pharmacy Search via Caremark Search (Link) or VA location search. UCs can prescribe a limited number of medications; no cost at a CCN pharmacy. Others, you can be reimbursed later.
* Co-payments-– Three UC visits a year are free unless a vet is in a high priority group; then VA may BILL you $30. You don’t have to pay upfront!
If you aren’t sure how ill you are, opt for a CCN hospital urgent care. If you have a bad tooth ache, UC can see if you need an antibiotic before you see a dentist. Need a flu shot? Will be free if they have it in stock.
If you have a private provider, email this YT link -5 min.. The TPA pays the provider directly–not the VA. The payment is based on Medicare rates. VA-CCN is a big ❤improvement over the earlier ragtag, as the crow flies, “Choice” programs.
If you use this UC benefit, please let us know how it goes. In our area of NW VT, we have two hospital-based UCs, and three small UCs. The hospitals joined VA-CCN after the smaller UCs. With weekend hours available, this give us some piece of mind. 🙂
Laura (Guest Author)
Update: 8/20/20 VA UC Quick Guide pdf.
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