Does VA Insurance Cover Addiction Treatment?

Veterans across the country struggle with addiction daily. In fact, 11% (more than 1 in 10) veterans who seek care through Veterans Affairs (VA) have a diagnosable substance use disorder.1 Unfortunately, this number is likely higher since many don’t seek the help they need out of fear of stigma, the high cost of care, or lack of nearby VA access.

However, treatment for addiction is included in some capacity under VA benefits, and veterans who have a secondary health insurance plan may be able to use it in conjunction with their VA benefits. Your coverage will depend on your benefits, so it’s always important to check prior to seeking treatment.

If you or a loved one is a veteran struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Most veterans are entitled to VA insurance (commonly known as VA benefits) that helps them get the care they need at an affordable price.

Use this simple tool to quickly verify your alcohol and addiction treatment insurance. After you’ve checked your benefits, you’ll have a clear idea of which types of addiction treatment are covered by your insurance. From there, Alcohol.org, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers (AAC), can help you find a treatment center near you where you can seek help for substance abuse.

Does VA Insurance Cover Mental Health and Co-Occurring Disorders?

Yes, VA insurance and healthcare benefits cover treatment for mental health and co-occurring disorders. VA benefits cover a variety of standard health benefits that help give veterans access to quality healthcare. Some of those healthcare benefits include regular checkups and treatment as well as appointments with specialists like mental health providers.2 In fact, the VA healthcare benefits cover mental health services that are designed to treat specific mental health disorders like PTSD, substance abuse problems, and depression.2

Despite these benefits for mental health and co-occurring disorders, coverage levels may vary, and you may be covered only for care at approved facilities. It’s important to verify your benefits to ensure treatment at a specific facility is covered.

Is a loved one struggling with alcohol?

How Do I Get Addiction Treatment Through VA Insurance?

You need to be enrolled in VA health care to obtain addiction treatment. The application process is straightforward and can be done through the VA’s website. Click here to check your eligibility for VA health care benefits and for information on how to apply. It will take about a week for the VA to make a decision on your application.3

Once you’re enrolled in VA healthcare benefits, you’ll need to coordinate your addiction treatment through a VA primary care provider who can make you an appointment with a mental health provider.4 If you don’t have a VA primary care provider, you should contact your nearest VA center or call the VA hotline at 877-222-8387 to talk to a representative about your needs. 4 The VA will then help you coordinate care through a VA facility. They will also help you find an approved outside facility if you don’t live near one.

AAC works with veterans every day to educate them on alcohol addiction treatment and connect them with alcoholism treatment centers. Many of our centers can work with VA benefits, making it possible for you to get the care you need without breaking the bank.

What if I Have VA Insurance and Another Health Insurance Plan?

If you have VA healthcare benefits and another health insurance plan, you may be wondering if that affects your addiction treatment coverage. Many vets use VA benefits in conjunction with secondary plans like Medicare, Medicaid, an employer-sponsored health plan, or TRICARE.5 In some cases, you may need to use both plans to obtain complete coverage and reduce your out-of-pocket costs for treatment. Be sure to contact your insurance providers before you seek care to obtain a summary of your benefits and coverage so you can understand how it works.

Some of the most common insurance plans for veterans include the following:

  • TRICARE—Active-duty service members, veterans, and their dependents are eligible to enroll in TRICARE. This private insurance program covers inpatient substance abuse treatment and treatment for mental health disorders, including inpatient and outpatient treatment.6,7
  • Medicaid—Available to low-income adults and families, pregnant women, the elderly, veterans, and people with disabilities, Medicaid is a federal health program run by the states. It often provides coverage at little to no cost.8 The VA doesn’t bill Medicaid for services rendered.5
  • Medicare—This federal health insurance program is for those over 65, people with disabilities, and those with end-stage renal disease.9 If eligible, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage (all-in-one) plan or smaller versions of Medicare (Medicare Part A, Part B, and/or Part D). Like Medicaid plans, Medicare isn’t billed by the VA, but if you have a Medicare supplemental health insurance plan, the VA may bill that plan for covered services.5

Your addiction treatment may be subject to cost-sharing requirements like copays or deductibles. It will depend on which eligibility priority group you are a part of through the VA.10 Contact your local VA to learn more about your priority group.

Addiction Treatment Designed for Veterans

AAC can help veterans struggling with alcohol addiction learn more about potential treatment options. We can also help you find a facility that will accept your VA health benefits and/or any other insurance plan you may have. Alcoholism is a serious disease. It’s important that you get the help you need, whether at a VA health care facility or an approved alternate program such as those offered by AAC.

Checking Coverage

Alcohol.org has made it easy to check your insurance benefits and take the guesswork out of knowing what is and isn’t covered. Click here to complete the short benefits verification form to get started.

Sources
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[1]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Substance Use and Military Life DrugFacts.

[2]. Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). About VA health benefits.

[3]. Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). How to apply for VA health care.

[4]. Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Schedule and manage health appointments.

[5]. Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). VA Health Care and Other Insurance.

[6]. TRICARE. (n.d.). TRICARE Home.

[7]. Military Times. (2017). Tricare expands mental health, substance abuse, opioid treatment options.

[8]. Medicaid. (n.d.). Medicaid: Medicaid.

[9]. HealthCare.gov. (n.d.). People with Medicare.

[10]. Veterans Affairs. (2020). VA Priority Groups.