Veterans Choice Program (VCP) for Drug or Alcohol Rehab

Veterans Choice Program (VA Choice) Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers

Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a significant problem in the U.S., but they seem to be especially prevalent in veterans. While there have been several attempts by the government to reduce illicit substance use in veterans, the SUD rates only seem to rise.1

SUD has many consequences, including medical problems and many psychiatric disorders. Around 30% of veterans’ suicides were preceded by drug or alcohol use, and about 20% of deaths that occurred due to high-risk behaviors were due to drug or alcohol overdose. If you look at these statistics, it’s easy to see why effective, evidence-based treatment is required.1

Fortunately, there are many interventions and services available for veterans to help them battle SUD. One of these programs is the Veterans Choice Insurance or Veterans Choice Program (VCP).1

What Is Veterans Choice Program Insurance?

The Veterans Choice Program is a healthcare program that offers benefits to certain veterans. Those who are eligible for benefits under the VA Choice Program can receive healthcare from a community provider instead of traveling to get treatment at a VA facility or waiting to get a VA appointment.2

The VCP was administered by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fulfill the promise made by President Lincoln. It was voted in 2014 with the passage of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.3

The Veterans Choice Program helps provide benefits and services to those who have earned them through their military service. The program’s goal is to honor the men and women who are US veterans.4

It’s important to note that the VA Choice Program stopped being effective in June 2019. Instead, it was replaced by the Veterans Community Care Program. However, the government did everything possible to make sure no veteran experienced a lapse in healthcare.5

Does the Veterans Choice Program Cover Drug and Alcohol Rehab Treatment?

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) voted in 2008 requires all health plans and health insurance providers to give their clients the same type of benefits for substance abuse and mental health services. As such, the Veterans Choice Program has to cover at least a portion of these expenses.6,7

To access SUD treatment services, you should contact your VA primary care provider or call a local hotline to find a treatment facility near you. This way, you can get screened for SUD, and a professional admissions team will advise you on the next steps. After the intake assessment procedure, further treatment covered by VCP will be decided.7

What Are Veterans Choice Program Coverage Levels and Plans?

The Veterans Choice Program enables veterans to choose whether they want to receive treatment from a standard VA provider or from a VCP provider. In other words, this allows veterans to get healthcare from local doctors. They can switch between the two at any level.8

The program doesn’t have various plans that typical providers offer. Instead, it follows the coverage plan you have with your VA insurance. You can access the program using the Veterans Choice Card. This card allows you to decide whether you’d like to get civilian or VA type of health care.9

Check Your Veterans Choice Program Rehab Coverage

To check whether your VCP program covers rehab, your best choice is to call their toll-free VA hotline. There, you’ll speak to a licensed professional that can check your benefits. 

  • VA Community Care Contact Center: 877-881-7618. Choose Option 1 to speak to an operator.

You can also contact American Addiction Centers, as their qualified staff can help you verify your insurance, no matter the healthcare provider. This is also a good moment to check any benefits you might be eligible for. Call our hotline or use the online form  by filling out your details.

Types of Addiction Treatment That Veterans Choice Program May Cover

There are many options VCP offers for veterans seeking SUD treatment, no matter the type of abused substance.7 Alcohol remains the most commonly abused substance among veterans and military personnel. About 56.6% of veterans use alcohol, while approximately 7.5% of veterans report monthly heavy drinking. Another common issue is the misuse of prescription opioids, while other illicit drugs are about just as common in veterans as they are in civilians.1

In general, the VA Choice Program covers an array of treatment services. Among others, these may include the following medication-based treatment options:7

The Veterans Choice Program might also cover various therapy options, including:7

Does Veterans Choice Program Cover Mental Health Treatment?

Mental health and SUD are strongly connected in military veterans. This is especially the case with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, about 1 in 3 veterans who seek treatment for SUD also suffer from PTSD, while 2 in 10 veterans who have PTSD also struggle with SUD.10

Other co-occurring disorders are also very common. About 17% of veterans from Iraq suffer from anxiety, while 15% have been diagnosed with depression. In fact, between 78% and 86% percent of veterans struggle with some type of mental health disorder. Up to 30% of them abuse alcohol, but there are many unreported SUD cases.11

Due to the MHPAEA, most plans that support the VCP also cover mental health treatment and dual diagnosis in the same way they would cover medical expenses. However, you should check your exact coverage with your provider.6

Does Veterans Choice Program Cover Private and Luxury Rehabs?

The VCP works combined with your other insurance plans. As such, it might cover rehab with special services, such as centers that offer luxury amenities or facilities that accept same-day admissions.12

There are more than 14,500 specialized SUD treatment facilities all over the U.S. They provide various treatment programs and accept different types of payment and insurance. A number of them may accept private and employer-subsidized insurances and health plans.13 VA can work with private health insurance providers, such as Blue Shield Blue Cross, to help cover treatment costs.8

As VA Choice insurance can be used alongside other policies, you might even be eligible for treatment at some luxurious rehab centers. This may include both inpatient and outpatient treatment. Some might even cover the expenses of faith-based treatment programs and related services.12

Which States Does the Veterans Choice Program Operate In?

The Veterans Choice Program can operate in all states depending on the situation a specific veteran is in. However, it is especially applicable in states or territories that don’t have a full-service VA medical facility. This includes veterans who live in these states:12

  • Alaska
  • New Hampshire
  • Hawaii

It also applies to the following US territories:12

  • African Samoa
  • Guam
  • The Northern Mariana Islands
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Of course, this doesn’t mean you cannot get treatment in other states. Whether you’d like to get professional treatment in California or are calling a hotline to find SUD treatment in Texas, the VA Choice Program might cover your expenses. Additionally, if you’re looking for SUD treatment in Nevada, you might start by contacting Desert Hope Treatment facility, a trusted center that might have the type of care you need. To learn more about your options and what to expect, you can always find answers to some of the most common questions or check out client testimonials of a certain facility. 

In Massachusetts, however, due to the state’s Healthcare Reform Law of 2007, the VCP operates together with Medicaid under the brand name MassHealth. This program provides coverage to veterans from Boston, Nantucket, and Springfield to Edgerton and Plymouth.14

How Much of the Rehab Cost Does the Veterans Choice Program Cover?

Under the VA Choice Program, you aren’t responsible for copayment to other insurance providers. As VA is the primary benefit coordinator, you’re only responsible for copayment predicted by your VA plan. This amount is usually determined after the care has been provided.2

Some veterans are exempt from copayments due to their income levels, disability rating, or special eligibility factors. For others, copayment amounts depend on their priority rates, the number of visits, and whether or not the condition is related to military service.15

Overall, most services that aren’t connected to your military service require a $15-$30 copayment, but the rates can vary. It’s best to contact the VA hotline to check the exact prices for your situation.15 

Who Is Eligible for the VCP?

There are six criteria that can determine whether or not you are eligible for the Veterans Choice Program insurance coverage. It may be enough for a veteran to only meet one of them. These six criteria are the following:12

  1. The veteran requires a service they cannot get at a VA treatment facility. 
  2. The veteran lives in a state that doesn’t have a full-service VA treatment facility. 
  3. The veteran qualifies under the “Grandfather” distance eligibility provision. This one is tricky as it has two additional requirements:
    1. They were eligible under the 40-mile criteria before June 6, 2018 (they live 40 miles or more from the nearest VA facility).
    2. They continue to reside in a location that is eligible under the same criteria.
  4. VA cannot provide treatment in a location that is less than 60-minutes average drive distance and less than 28 days from the date of request.
  5. Both the veteran and the clinician agree that the veteran should see a community provider.
  6. A service that VA can provide doesn’t meet quality standards.

How to Get the Veterans Choice Program to Pay for My Rehab Treatment

The first thing you need to do to get the VA Choice Program to pay for your rehab is to file a claim for Veteran Care.16

The process for filing a claim might vary depending on several factors, such as whether you’re getting treatment at a civil or VA facility. To know how to make a precise claim for your situation, it would be wise to contact VA and ask them for more information. Overall, for the VA Choice Program, VA is the entity responsible for processing your claim, which is another reason why you might want to ask them for a helping hand.16,17

What Should I Do if the Cost Is Not Fully Covered?

Unfortunately, not all veterans are eligible for the VA Choice Program. However, just because you don’t have insurance, it doesn’t mean you cannot get treatment.6 

There are many payment options for those who aren’t eligible for insurance. For example, some facilities might offer sliding scale fees or low-cost care. Many facilities will even agree to provide care free of charge if an individual cannot afford treatment.6 

Of course, you’ll need an estimate of your annual income to prove that you truly cannot pay for rehab. If anything else, almost all treatment facilities will accept cash, so you can always borrow money to get better and not leave your recovery waiting.6

If you’d like to check how much your treatment will cost with insurance or discuss some alternative payment options, you can always contact AAC. You might find that some of AAC’s reputable treatment centers might provide you with the care you need.

Frequently Asked Questions