Today, AARP launched a new tool to bring together valuable information and resources to help veterans, military families and their caregivers navigate their health care options. The Veterans and Military Families Health Benefits Navigator, provides Wyoming’s veterans with critical information about what is required to qualify for health care benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or Department of Defense (DoD).
“Now more than ever, veterans and military families need help accessing the health care benefits they earned serving our country,” says AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway. “This free, one-stop resource will help make the process less confusing and overwhelming for veterans and military families as they navigate their options.”
Even before the pandemic, veterans and their families struggled with where to begin when deciding the best path for their health care needs: VA health care, Military Tricare, Medicare, private insurance, or Medicaid. Recently, more than 340,000 veterans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and VA medical centers have reported almost 15,000 deaths from the disease. In addition, of the 50,852 veterans living in Wyoming, only 37% have utilized their earned benefits at VA health care, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The AARP Veterans and Military Families Health Benefits Navigator can help families:
· Learn more about health benefits provided through the VA and DoD;
· Understand how to apply for and enroll in VA health care; and
· Identify how to get help from representatives who have experience and knowledge of the VA’s process for awarding benefits.
Nearly 60% of all veterans are eligible for VA healthcare services, while less than half of those eligible veterans use VA health benefits, according to a RAND study. Yet quality of care delivered by VA is generally equal to or better than care delivered in the private sector. A misunderstanding or frustration with the application process causes many veterans to simply forgo VA health benefits. Oftentimes, confusion about qualification requirements keeps veterans from receiving their health benefits.