The federal VA operates a robust and comprehensive health care system for veterans in the District of Columbia.
5-Year Post-Deployment Health Care Benefits
If you served in a combat theater of operations after November 11, 1998, you may be eligible to receive free or reduced-cost health care for a period of five years immediately following your active duty discharge, regardless of whether your medical needs are deemed service-connected. This is thanks to enhanced eligibility criteria under the federal VA’s “Combat Veteran” authority, which allows returning combat veterans to enroll in the VA health care system at a higher-than-basic Priority Group, where you will have full access to the VA’s medical benefits package.
The 5-year enrollment period begins on the date you separated from active duty, or, if a reservist or national guardsman with multiple call-ups, on your most recent discharge date. Eligibility for VA health care is normally contingent upon other factors such as a service-connected disability or a veteran’s financial circumstances; thus, combat veterans are strongly encouraged to apply for enrollment within their 5-year enhanced eligibility period, even if no medical care is currently needed.
Veterans, including members of the National Guard and activated reservists, who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
Theaters of combat operations during this time period include locales related to Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, as well as numerous other areas of hostilities and/or imminent danger. For a complete list see here.
Benefits include enrollment in Priority Group 6 or higher, eligibility for Choice Card Program, federal VA dental benefits, and more.
For more information: Federal VA: Health Benefits for Returning Service Members
If you are already enrolled in VA health care, the Choice Program allows you to receive health care within your community. Using this program does NOT impact your existing VA health care, or any other VA benefit.
For more information: Federal VA: Veterans Choice Program Eligibility
Your first step in attaining federal VA health benefits is to apply for enrollment in the VA health care system. During the application verification process, the VA considers a variety of factors to determine your eligibility for enrollment. Consult the Eligibility section of this webpage for more details.
To learn more about the benefits you could receive through VA health care, visit the VA Health Benefits Explorer.
How to apply for enrollment
There are four ways that you can apply for enrollment in the VA health care system: by telephone, online, in person, or by mail.
For more information: Federal VA: Ways to Enroll
Healthcare Benefits Eligibility
If you served in the active military service and were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable, you may qualify for federal VA health care benefits. Reservists and National Guard members may also qualify for VA health care benefits if they were called to active duty (other than for training purposes) by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called up.
For more information: Federal VA: Health Care
My Health eVet
My HealtheVet is your online Personal Health Record that allows you to access and manage your federal VA health information conveniently and efficiently, 24 hours a day/7 days a week. There you can refill and track your federal VA prescription medications, keep track of medical appointments, access and update your federal VA health record, and communicate securely with your federal VA health care team. You can also explore a variety of ways to monitor and improve your health.
To get the most out of your My HealtheVet, veterans are urged to visit their local federal VA health care facility to get an upgraded account, known as In-Person Authentication (IPA).
For more information: My HealtheVet
Non-VA Medical Center Emergency Care
Veterans are eligible for emergency care at non-federal VA facilities under certain circumstances: if you are too far from a federal VA facility to receive care in a safe, timely manner, or if your local federal VA facility is not properly equipped to handle your type of emergency care needs.
In such cases, the 2010 Veterans Emergency Care Protective Act enables the federal VA to reimburse veterans enrolled in federal VA health care for the remaining cost of emergency treatment if the veteran has outside insurance that only covers part of the cost.
If non-federal VA emergency care is received, notification to the nearest federal VA health care facility must be made within 72 hours of hospitalization. Federal VA payment is limited up to the point that the veteran’s condition is stable for transport to a federal VA facility.
For more information: Federal VA: Emergency Care
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a health benefits program in which the VA shares the cost of certain health care services and supplies with eligible beneficiaries.
In general, the CHAMPVA program covers most health care services and supplies that are medically and psychologically necessary. Upon confirmation of eligibility, you will receive program material that specifically addresses covered and noncovered services and supplies in the form of a CHAMPVA handbook.
To be eligible for CHAMPVA, you cannot be eligible for TRICARE and you must be in one of these categories:
- The spouse or child of a veteran who has been rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability by a VA regional office, or
- The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability, or
- The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who was at the time death rated permanently and totally disabled, or
- The surviving spouse or child of a military member who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct (in most of these cases, these family members are eligible for TRICARE, not CHAMPVA).
An eligible CHAMPVA sponsor may be entitled to receive medical care through the VA health care system based on their own Veteran status. If the eligible CHAMPVA sponsor is the spouse of another eligible CHAMPVA sponsor, both may now be eligible for CHAMPVA benefits. In each instance where the eligible spouse requires medical attention, they may choose the VA health care system or coverage under CHAMPVA for their health care needs.
NOTE: The eligibility of a child is not affected by the divorce or remarriage of the spouse except in the case of a stepchild. When a stepchild leaves the sponsor's household, the child is no longer eligible for CHAMPVA.
For more information: VHA Office of Community Care
The Patient Advocacy Program is for all veterans and their families who receive care at Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities and clinics. The federal VA wants to be sure that you have someone to go to with your concerns in a timely manner and to help you receive care.
If you need help getting care or getting your problems resolved, talk to the Patient Advocate at your nearest VA Medical Center.
For more information: Federal VA: Patient Advocacy Program
The federal VA's prescription benefit ensures that you receive safe, effective, medically necessary medications that represent a good value. If you are being treated by a federal VA primary care provider, you will be provided all necessary medications for your treatment. The cost of medications depends on your disability status: If you have a service-connected disability, you may receive federal VA medications free of charge. If you do not have a service-connected disability, you may be charged a copayment for each 30-day supply of medications the federal VA provides.
For more information: Federal VA: Prescriptions
Presumptive Health Conditions
For the purpose of disability compensation, there are specific health conditions, even if they were not incurred or aggravated during military service, that the federal VA presumes to be service-connected because of the unique nature of certain veterans’ military service. These are called presumptive health conditions.
Note: The VA will also consider other conditions not listed if supported by medical or scientific evidence. To be eligible for disability compensation, the VA must be able to establish that it is at least as likely as not that a veteran’s disease was caused by their military service. Working with a veteran service officer will help you determine if your health condition meets any of the qualifying presumptive health conditions.
For more information: Federal VA: Presumptive Health Conditions
Transportation for Health Care
There are a number of services available to ensure that you have safe and reliable transportation to and from your federal VA medical appointments. These include:
- Beneficiary Travel (BT)
- Veterans Transportation Service (VTS)
- Transportation for Highly Rural Veterans
- The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Transportation Network
For more information: Transportation Services
Tribal Veterans Health Care
The Tribal Reimbursement Program provides a means for tribal health facilities to receive reimbursement from the federal VA for direct care services provided to American Indian and Alaskan Native eligible veterans.
For more information: Federal VA: Tribal Health Care Benefits
Vet Center Call Center
1-877-WAR VETS (1.877.927.8387) is an around the clock confidential call center where combat Veterans and their families can call to talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in their readjustment to civilian life. The staff is comprised of combat Veterans from several eras as well as family members of combat Veterans. The service is free for combat Veterans and their families so they may find resources they need at their nearest Vet Center.
For more information: visit the Federal VA: Vet Centers webpage or call 1-877-WAR VETS.
Services provided at Vet Centers include bereavement and readjustment counseling to individuals, groups, couples, and families.
If you served in a combat zone and received a campaign ribbon, you and your family are eligible for Vet Center services. In addition, parents, siblings, spouses, and children of any active duty service member who dies while on active duty are eligible for bereavement counseling services.
For more information: Find a Vet Center or visit the Federal VA: Vet Centers webpage.
Veterans Crisis Line
The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.
For more information: Federal VA: Veterans Crisis Line or call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.
Women Veterans Health Care
Women veterans are eligible for the same federal VA health benefits as male veterans, as well as an array of additional gender-specific care services. Such comprehensive health services include women’s primary care, specialty care, mental health care, reproductive health care services, and treatment for eating disorders. The federal VA also provides management of acute and chronic illnesses, preventative care, contraceptive services, menopause management, cancer screenings including pap smear and mammograms, and gynecology.
Maternity care is covered in the medical benefits package to include care for newborn children of women veterans for up to 7 days after birth. The federal VA is also mandated to implement pilot programs to provide child care to women veterans receiving medical care and to provide readjustment services to women veterans. Infertility evaluation and limited treatments are also available.
Women Veterans Program Managers are available at all federal VA facilities to help veterans seeking treatment and benefits.
For more information: Federal VA: Women Veterans’ Health Care programs
VA Health Care for Aging Veterans
The healthcare needs of the aging veteran population are unique and complex. The federal VA health care system has dedicated resources to serve the needs of this growing population of veterans. These services can be provided in your home, at a VA medical facility or in your community, depending on your situation and needs.
For more information: Federal VA: Geriatrics and Extended Care
DC Health Link
DC Health Link was created and is governed by the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority.The mission of the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority is to implement a health care exchange program in the District of Columbia in accordance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), thereby ensuring access to quality and affordable health care to all DC residents. DC Health Link is the name of the DC Health Benefit Exchange program.
For more information: DC Health Link
Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB)
The Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program helps District residents who are eligible for Medicare pay for their Medicare costs. This means that Medicaid will pay for the Medicare premiums, co-insurance, and deductibles for Medicare-covered services. It also means that you will receive extra help with your costs under the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D), which will limit the amount you pay for your prescriptions to only a few dollars each.
For more information: Qualified Medical Beneficiary
Department of Healthcare Finance - DHCF
The Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF), formerly the Medical Assistance Administration under the Department of Health, is the District of Columbia’s state Medicaid agency.
The mission of the Department of Health Care Finance is to improve health outcomes by providing access to comprehensive, cost-effective and quality healthcare services for residents of the District of Columbia.
For more information: Department of Health Care Finance - webpage