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Assistance from the VA Medical Care Hardship Program.

Thousands of military veterans are struggling in this current economic environment and are experiencing financial hardships. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs can help. The agency created a resource known as the VA Medical Care Hardship Program.

The program is focused on helping people with paying off their medical bills and health care expenses. The VA Medical Care Hardship program can also help struggling veterans qualify for healthcare benefits. There are some conditions to receiving aid, but in general people who have had a recent change in their income, such as a job loss or reduction in total household income from say a reduction in work hours, will be eligible. They can look into this program even if they were previously denied enrollment based on their household income at the time. So individuals can in effect reapply multiple times. Hardships will tend to be approved if the veteran's current year income is substantially lower than the previous year.

Conditions for the VA Medical Care hardship Program

After you apply, several different criteria will be looked at. Your personal circumstances will be reviewed to determine if qualified. This includes factors such as the loss of a job, reduction in hours that results in lower pay, an unexpected, sudden decrease in income (from other causes such as an injury) are some of the criteria.

However, even an increase in expenses that a veteran is responsible for maying on a monthly basis may make you eligible for assistance. For example, an increase in out-of-pocket veteran or family healthcare expenses, hospital or medical bills or debt, medications, and/or other expenses will also factor into the VA's hardship determination. Also if you applied in the past and were rejected, you can reapply and your status will be reviewed.

Veterans who have put off applying for VA health-care benefits because they were denied in the past, or maybe they thought their income was too high, these people may want to reconsider applying for hardship enrollment if their current year expenses have increased, or if their projected current year income is going to be substantially lower than the previous year. Dial 1-800-273-8255.




If enrolled in the program but are still having problems

Many people have already successfully enrolled, but they may still be having difficulty in paying their medical debt. Maybe their financial situation continued to deteriorate. If that is the case, and if you are a veteran who is currently enrolled in the VA Medical Care Hardship Program and are receiving health-care benefits but are still struggling with your medical debt and bills, there are several other options and programs that could provide you with assistance. Find options below. Or look into medical debt settlement.

Repayment plan - This is one option for you. Veterans who are experiencing problems with making co-pays may request that a repayment plan be established on their account. This will give them time and can help them get back on track with their bills. If the repayment plan is approved by your medical provider or the VA, the plan will result in a more-affordable monthly payment by spreading the unpaid medical debt out over an extended period of time, thereby lowering the monthly payments. Medical debt consolidation is also another way to lower your monthly payments.

Waiver - The Department of Veterans Affairs can decide to waive or eliminate a veteran's existing health-care debt if they have experienced a job loss. Or maybe they obtained a new job and then lost that one as well. The debt that someone owes may also be eliminated if their salary or income has gone down or if other expenses have increased.

Compromise - Military veterans who are unable to pay their medical debt or bill in full or if they can’t clear the debt in a reasonable time frame, then they can request what is known as a compromise. A compromise is a form of settlement. It means that the Veterans Affairs can accept a lesser amount of money and agree that acceptance will amount to a full settlement of the veteran's outstanding debt.





Medicare - Veterans can also get free or low cost health care from Medicare. As one of the challenges is that the VA provides different benefits than this federal government benefit program. In fact, the two programs are completely separate. This is why a vet may be able to get financial aid, medications, help with hospital bills and other assistance from Medicare. But it can be completed to enroll into, and learn about how vets can apply to Medicare.

Hardship - In extreme situations, they may decide to eliminate a patients future health-care debts and they will also decide to qualify the veterans for health care without co-pay. This option of medical-care hardship may be an appropriate solution if the veteran's household income has suddenly and unexpectedly dropped.

If interested in applying or learning more about the Veterans Affair Medical Care Hardship Program, contact your local county veterans service officer. Or call 877-222-8387. Note that the program is free to all veterans and their families and dependents.

By Jon McNamara

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