Last updated 1/22/2016 at 3:14pm | View PDF
Welcome to this edition of Veterans Corner!
Although you may not think about it, at some time in life, you may need emergency care. If and when that happens, the following information will be important.
When you need emergency care and are unable to get to the nearest VA medical facility, just go to the nearest hospital with an emergency room. What you do next determines whether the Veterans Administration will pay your hospital bills.
A medical emergency is when an injury or illness is so severe that without immediate treatment your life or health is threatened. Use your best judgment in deciding if yours is a medical emergency.
After you decide that it is a medical emergency and you go to the emergency room, someone must contact the nearest VA medical center. This begins the approval process.
It's important that you are aware that the VA may limit payment on some services. The VA gathers information about your emergency and the services provided to you. When you call the VA to provide this information, make sure that you are speaking to the Fee Basis department, as only that department can approve treatment.
After calling Fee Basis to get approval for treatment, ask if a bed is available at the VA medical facility so that you can be transferred when the ER doctor feels you are stable enough to be transported. If they tell you that there are no beds available, the VA may continue to pay for your treatment (excluding any co-pays you may be responsible for) at the non-VA hospital. However, if there is a bed available and you refuse to go to the VA medical facility, you will be held responsible.
How much the VA pays toward your care if you are admitted to the hospital depends on your current VA eligibility status and whether your treatment relates to a service-connected condition or not.
If you leave the hospital before you're treated, the VA may refuse to pay the charges incurred, such as ER or ambulance fees, regardless of your veteran eligibility status.
Ken Cruickshank, retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, is the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County. Send your questions to the Veterans Service Office, 205 N. L St., Tulare, call (559) 684-4960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.