Retired vets to pay more out of pocket for some services at VA hospitals, clinics

Posted at 6:51 PM, Aug 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-23 18:51:32-04

Hampton, Va. - Ronald Rytter, a retired Air Force veteran, has been a loyal patient at the Hampton VA for more than 20 years, getting his annual checkups, eye and hearing exams, as well as treatments for his service connected disabilities.

Now, with new changes to his insurance plan, Tricare for Life, he is not sure if all of his current services will continue to be fully covered.

That's because starting October 1st, Tricare will no longer be paying the full cost of treatment for non-service connected disabilities at VA hospitals and clinics.

They will only cover 20% leaving the veteran with 80% of costs.

“How are veterans supposed to decipher what is service-connected and what is not service-connected? I don't know,” said Rytter.

The hiccup over payments all comes down to Medicare.

Tricare for Life is a supplemental insurance plan to retirees on Medicare, and is only meant to fill in the gaps that Medicare doesn't cover.

Medicare, by law, cannot pay out to government providers like the VA, so Tricare has been picking up the full tab for years, and just realized it this spring.

Tricare says they sent notices by mail to all 12,000 veterans affected by the change--the letter tells them to consult their local VA facility for further guidance.

NewsChannel 3 contacted the Hampton VA, and they could only tell us the following:

“Our Country is undergoing many changes related to health care coverage which includes the Tricare program used by DoD.  We are expecting more details in the near future as to how these changes will impact local veterans, and will share them as they become available.  We will work to ensure that those impacted by these changes will be notified via all means possible.  We are here to provide the best possible health care for Veterans of all eras and will continue to do so.”

“Of course they are going to have to start telling us, but when and how?” said Rytter. “There is going to be a lot of confusion.”