Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Coverage Options
If you or one of your loved ones is a veteran struggling with substance use, help may be available through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all insurance plans, including VA insurance, must cover some, if not all, of the cost of mental health treatment and substance use disorder treatment, making health and healing accessible to all who need it.
Unique Situations of Veterans Dealing With Substance Use
For a veteran or family member of a veteran, the opportunity for VA insurance coverage is particularly important. Recent statistics point to nearly one in 10 active and retired service members dealing with a substance use disorder, or SUD. Their tireless efforts to protect citizens and the country have resulted in significant physical, mental, and emotional trauma that make it difficult to return to life as normal after service.
Conditions such as PTSD and other mental health disorders can lead to drug and alcohol use to cope with uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. These unhealthy ways of coping can cause veterans to turn to unhealthy substances such as drugs and alcohol to deal with excessive stress and trauma associated with military life. If you suspect that cause drug and alcohol use has become something you can no longer control, it may be time to get the help you need.
Other Veteran Health Needs
Military veterans comprise approximately 19 million people in the United States alone. this large portion of the population is dealing with an unprecedented level of physical and mental health challenges as they return home and attempt to re-enter civilian life once more. With the sharp escalation and intensity of today’s training and battle modulations, it is no secret that modern mental health and physical health care systems have struggled to keep up with the demands placed on these heroes.
Physical pain is evident and visible, so it gets the largest portion of treatment in this population. What is far more devastating, however, is the mental wear and tear that causes many to suffer silently. Nearly one in four active military members are thought to have developed at least one mental health condition during their term of service. If left untreated, these mental health issues can significantly impact the way an individual experiences life during and after the military.
Are our veterans getting the care they so desperately need? Do they struggle to maintain healthy habits at home after a term of service? Are they learning to deal with stress and other life experiences by using substances to mask physical and emotional pain? This complicated set of life experiences and quiet suffering can lead to devastating consequences if not properly treated. Thankfully, the Department of Veterans Affairs has put structures in place that veterans can draw from during and after a term of service that help improve mental and physical health. There is no longer a need to suffer in silence with the system of support and a broad spectrum of services that exist to draw from.
Applying for coverage and receiving benefits is the first step in claiming a healthier life. Those who take advantage of the support offered by VA medical facilities and insurance companies have the opportunity to reclaim and redesign a healthier life once more.
VA Insurance Coverage for Substance Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders
Thankfully, Veterans Affairs insurance provides coverage for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 80% of veterans suffering from PTSD also have one or more mental health issues; this makes it even more essential that they receive treatment in order to lead healthy, productive lives.
Veterans Affairs insurance covers the following mental health issues:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
- Issues arising from military sexual trauma
- Substance use issues
- Bipolar disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Specific phobias
- Social anxiety
Provided services pertaining to substance abuse include:
- Medically supervised detoxification programs
- Programs for veterans in specific sub-categories, such as women and family members
- Drug substitution therapies
- Inpatient treatment services
- Outpatient treatment services
- Residential care
- Ongoing counseling to prevent relapse
Getting the Help You Need
The first step to receiving addiction treatment through VA insurance benefits is to apply for VA healthcare benefits. The website provides a comprehensive, step-by-step process to make signing up and receiving benefits easy and efficient.
Once registered, you will need to make an initial appointment to talk with a VA-endorsed primary care physician about your substance use concerns. The more honest you can be about your struggles and desires for recovery, the more efficiently you can be matched with services that are tailored to your specific needs. Your doctor will work with you to find a suitable rehabilitation facility or program if you have had difficulty reaching out on your own.
If you don’t yet have a VA primary care physician or have not visited a VA facility before, you can:
- Do a search for SUD programs near you at your local VA facility
- Contact your local VA medical center for resources and contact information
- Call the general VA hotline for information about SUD treatment a 1-800-827-1000
VA addiction recovery programs were designed with veterans and their families in mind. Created specifically for those who suffer from substance use disorder and other mental health afflictions, they can provide a unique space for understanding issues unique to veteran life and promote healing. Staff members who serve in these programs are often vets themselves, and they are ready to assist you with every step of their evidence-based therapy process to help you discover your new passion and purpose for life.
Using VA Benefits in Combination With Other Insurance Plans
Veterans who have other forms of health coverage, such as private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, are allowed to use VA benefits concurrent with their other insurance coverage to cover medical services, mental health therapies, and SUD treatment.
If you are currently receiving medical care for conditions that are not related to your military service, you will be required to provide information about additional health insurance coverage so your chosen VA care facility can bill private insurance. Please note that the VA MISSION Act of 2018 releases the VA from the obligation to ask permission to bill private health insurance companies in cases of “sensitive diagnosis” such as SUD treatment.
Treatment Options or Veterans
If you are a veteran or a member of a military family who is in need of help for a substance use addiction, there are several options for covering treatment. Common SUD treatment coverage options include the following.
Tricare is a well-known health insurance program designed for active-duty service members and their families, as well as veterans. Tricare insurance will cover the cost of substance use disorder treatment through most VA hospital locations. Common benefits that are covered through Tricare insurance include:
- Therapeutic services
- Substance use disorder treatment
- Hospitalization related to substance use disorder
- Treatment for opioid addiction
- Medication-assisted treatment services
- Medically supervised detoxification
- Inpatient hospital services (emergency and non-emergency)
- Outpatient programs
- Drug testing
- Return-to-life services as prescribed by your care team
Medicaid insurance offers low-cost and even free health insurance and supplemental coverage for those who need it most, even if you have existing VA benefits. Nearly one in 10 veterans benefit from Medicaid coverage to supplement their healthcare coverage needs.
It’s important to note that Medicaid is not accepted at every treatment facility endorsed by the VA. Do a bit of homework before choosing a treatment center to make sure your chosen institution accepts Medicaid coverage.
Medicare coverage covers veterans with VA benefits even if you choose a non-VA sponsored hospital or facility. Medicare will give you a few more options to choose from when signing up for services. Your VA benefits and Medicare benefits work together to ensure that you receive the care you need at minimal cost to you. As previously discussed, you’ll need to check your Medicare plan coverage to ensure that you are covered at the facility you choose and that the services you need to return to optimal health are also covered.
Your needs as a military service member or veteran are best met when you receive care from specialists and care facilities who understand the unique struggles of military life and a return to civilian life. Feeling understood and being able to connect to other individuals who share experiences like yours can lend additional support needed to keep you moving forward toward health and healing.
If you, as a veteran or a loved one, are concerned about mental and physical health, it’s time to seek support. Life after the military is fraught with additional challenges, but you’re no stranger to adversity. Step up and take back your life by seeking the mental and physical care you need to return to your whole health. You deserve a healthier life, and you can begin to create it today. Turn to VeteranRehab.org for the resources and guidance you need.