VA offers dental insurance through partnerships

The Veterans Administration is partnering with Delta Dental and MetLife to allow eligible veterans—plus family members receiving care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA)—to now purchase affordable dental insurance.

“VA continues to explore innovative ways to help veterans get access to the care and services they have earned and deserve,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “This new dental program is another example of VA creating partnerships with the private sector to deliver a range of high-quality care at an affordable cost, for our nation’s veterans.”

More than 8 million veterans who are enrolled in VA health care can choose to purchase one of the offered dental plans. This three-year pilot has been designed for veterans with no dental coverage, or those eligible for VA dental care who would like to purchase additional coverage. Participation will not affect entitlement to VA dental services and treatment.

There are no eligibility limitations based on service-connected disability rating or enrollment priority assignment. People interested in participating may complete an application online through either Delta Dental, www.deltadentalvadip.org,or MetLife, www.metlife.com/vadipbeginning Nov. 15. Coverage for this new dental insurance will begin Jan. 1 and will be available throughout the U. S. and its territories.

Also eligible for the new benefits are nearly 400,000 spouses and dependent children who are reimbursed for most medical expenses under VA’s CHAMPVA program. Generally, CHAMPVA participants are spouses, survivors or dependent children of veterans officially rated as “permanently and totally” disabled by a service-connected condition.

Dental services under the new program vary by plan and include diagnostic, preventive, surgical, emergency and endodontic/restorative treatment. Enrollment in the VA Dental Insurance Plan (VADIP) is voluntary. Participants are responsible for all premiums, which range from $8.65 to $52.90 per month for individual plans. Copayments and other charges may apply.

Historically, VA’s free dental services have gone to veterans with dental problems connected to a medical condition that is officially certified as “service connected.” Free dental services will continue for those veterans.

For more information on VADIP, visit www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vadip,or contact Delta Dental at 1-855-370-3303 or MetLife at 1-888-310-1681.

Veterans who are not enrolled in the VA health care system can apply at any time by visiting www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll,calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visiting their local VA health care facility.

Jane Babcock of the Manitowoc County Veterans Service Office said veterans should keep in mind the only family members eligible for this coverage are those enrolled in ChampVA because of the veteran being 100 percent service connected disabled or rated as Individually Unemployable (IU) because of service injuries or illnesses or the veteran died from service-related causes so the surviving spouse receives DIC.

For the single veteran, the coverage in the Manitowoc area costs between $9.73 and $40.85 a month, determined by the company and plan chosen.

Babcock said married wartime veterans or their surviving spouses, who receive funds under the pension (NSCP), can include this cost in their report of medical expenses. The single wartime veteran receiving pension funds has free dental care at the VA. The new Green Bay clinic is already doing dental appointments for the veterans who are on pension, are 100 percent SC, or individually unemployable.

NSCP is an income minus medical expense program to keep wartime families from living below poverty or when they are experiencing large medical bills such as paying for in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. The asset limit for this benefit is approximately $80,000, not counting the primary home. “We can step in and assist well before Medical Assistance and long before MediCaid,” Babcock said.