terry_moakleyNothing on the planet can seem as complicated as eligibility for health care insurance. Most veterans in this nation are eligible for VA health care but in a recent VA press release, I was astonished to learn that more than1.3 million veterans and more than 950,000 spouses and children of veterans have no health care insurance whatsoever.

This VA press release went on to state that most uninsured veterans are eligible for VA health care. If you are a veteran who has not enrolled yet in the VA health care system, you can visit your local VA health care facility in person to do so. Or, you can call 1-877-222-VETS to become enrolled for VA health care services. And you also have a third VA enrollment option, which is to do so at the following website: www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll.

As readers of this blog should know, a good portion of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect at the start of 2014. If, like me, you are already enrolled in VA health care, come the beginning of 2014, you don’t have to do anything. Nothing will change for us enrollees.

However, you may want to visit a brand new VA website, www.va.gov/aca, which informs veterans exactly what the Affordable Care Act implementation means for them and their family members. In my view, the Affordable Care Act also provides new opportunities for coverage for uninsured veterans and their family members. It offers veterans and their family members a second choice.

This may be viewed by some in the VA hierarchy as heresy, but personally, I think that Americans, and particularly America’s veterans, have earned a choice. I’m a classic example of a veteran who nearly 30 years ago, was faced with the possibility of losing a kidney because one or more stones were clogging the tube connecting this kidney to the bladder, known as the ureter. I looked around my local VAMC at the time.

And then I looked into a good private hospital in my area. I learned that a urologist there had developed a pioneering ureter reconstructive procedure. I went there, was examined by him, had the surgery and today in my late 60s, I still have two functioning kidneys.

These days, I use my local VA exclusively. I like my primary physician and the nursing staff at the VA hospital that I use, too. On the other hand, it’s good to know that there are physicians at private hospitals in my area who I can see if I choose to, even if it’s just to obtain a second opinion.

I’m hopeful that the implementation next year of the Affordable Care Act will improve health care options for all Americans. It should and if it does, it should help to improve VA health care services, too.

Terry Moakley
Chair of the VetsFirst Committee