As a veteran, it can be difficult to keep track of which benefits, resources, and programs are available to you. With different programs offering different eligibility requirements, it is not always easy to know what is and is not available to you and your family. Don’t wait until an emergency strikes before figuring out your options for seeking fast and reliable care.
The United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) offers a number of programs that help veterans access affordable and quality healthcare. One of these programs is the VA Dental Insurance Program.
Of course, health insurance in America can be expensive and challenging to obtain for those unable to work or between jobs. For dental insurance, the situation can be even worse.
If you are struggling to find an affordable plan that offers yourself and your family coverage for vital dental care services, the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP) might be right for you.
VADIP is designed to offer comprehensive coverage at a reduced cost and is only available to veterans and their beneficiaries. VADIP began as a three-year pilot program designed to see whether the program would be effective and affordable in the long-term, and the result was over 155,000 veterans and beneficiaries receiving coverage.
Through VADIP, veterans can purchase reduced-cost health insurance from two major companies: MetLife and Delta Dental of California. Just like any other civilian, veterans can shop around for a plan that is right for their needs and budget, rather than merely live with a one-size-fits-all plan.
What Services are Covered by VADIP?
Through VADIP, veterans and their families can access a full range of comprehensive health services. Services covered often include diagnostic, surgical, preventative, endodontic, restorative and emergency services.
Some of the specific services covered by VADIP plans may include X-Rays, cleanings and checkups, cavity fillings and orthodontic care, such as braces and retainers. Certainplans will only cover a percentage of certain services, along with having lifetime or annual caps on coverage. Additionally, certain services, such as orthodontic care, may be covered only for certain groups, such as enrollees under the age of 19.
Through MetLife and Delta Dental, you can choose between basic and comprehensive plans, which each offer different services, deductibles,and rates. To find a plan that is flexible with your budget and meets your needs, you can shop directly on MetLife and Delta Dental websites.
Both MetLife and Delta Dental offer a comprehensive network of medical professionals who can accept payment from your insurance company directly, as well as offer reduced out-of-pocket costs to make your medical care even more affordable. Using online directories, both companies can help you find an in-network dentist near you, even if you live in a rural area.
Of course, while veterans can enjoy a reduced cost through VADIP, they are responsible for the costs of premiums, deductibles and any services not covered by insurance, so it is important to choose a plan within budget.
If you are a veteran interested in VADIP, it is encouraged that you first register with the VA health care system.
It is important to note that all beneficiaries must be enrolled in the VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA) to qualify for VADIP. In general, CHAMPVA recipients must be the spouse or child of a veteran who has died in connection to their service or was rendered permanently and totally disabled due to their service.
You can find out more information about CHAMPVA eligibility, as well as the similar TRICARE program offered to veteran dependents here. Although those not eligible for CHAMPVA will be unable to be covered under VADIP, it is possible that VADIP providers may offer separate coverage plans for dependents.
One of VADIP strongest benefits is the fact that it is not an “open season” program. This means that no enrollment period must be adhered to and interested veterans can enroll at any time. After the obvious popularity and success of VADIP’s three-year pilot program, the program has been extended, with enrollment open until December 2021.
To begin your process of getting covered, you should first do some research and find a plan that is right for you. If you have already confirmed your VA eligibility, you can begin the enrollment process online or by phone with the insurance company you have chosen. Otherwise, you can begin your online application process. You can learn more about the process here.
It is important to understand the terms, conditions,and costs associated with your individual plan. Some plans might have a “lock-in” period, usually around 12 months. During this period, some companies will allow you to upgrade your coverage, but not downgrade, and you will not be allowed to switch companies or stop coverage. In other plans, you may not be able to make any alterations to your coverage during this period.
Tips for Choosing a Plan
Health care plans of any sort are often personal, and not one-size-fits-all. When selecting a plan, consider what your needs are. How many of your dependents are eligible under CHAMPVA, and what services will they require?
It is essential first and foremost to consider cost, as well as coverage. More expensive plans might seem like a more cost-prohibitive option but consider what benefits they offer that basic plans do not. If the difference is coverage of orthodontic or restorative care or covering 100% rather than 60% of certain medical services, then you may save money in the long run by paying the higher premiums.
It is also important to consider any pre-existing conditions that may require certain dental services in the future. Ultimately, it is important to remember that, after a “lock-in” period, it is possible to change plans in the future.
Dental care is ultimately a vital aspect of health and well being, and with the support VADIP, getting the best coverage at an affordable price can be easier than ever before.