For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

Vets must fill out annual
financial assessment form

Question: I have been asked by the VA to fill out a financial assessment form. I filled out one last year when I enrolled. Is this an annual requirement?

Answer: Yes. While many veterans qualify for enrollment and cost-free health care services based on a compensable service-connected condition or other qualifying factor, most veterans will be asked to complete an annual financial assessment.

Otherwise known as the means test, this financial information will be used to determine the applicant's enrollment priority group and whether the veteran is eligible for cost-free VA health care. Higher-income veterans may be required to share in the expense of their care by making copayments.

Veterans who choose not to complete the financial assessment must agree to pay required copayments as a condition of their eligibility. Due to VA's restricting enrollment of new priority group 8 veterans who apply after Jan. 17, 2003, veterans who decline to provide financial information will not be accepted for enrollment.

Veterans who are required to provide their financial information generally must do so on an annual basis. To simplify this annual requirement, VA recently introduced a new shorter version of its application form.

The new form, VA form 10-10EZR, is to be used by enrolled veterans to update their previously reported information such as address, insurance, employment and financial information.

It will save veterans time by eliminating the collection of information previously collected. Call the VA at 433-0600 for the form, or accessed from the VA Web site at www.va.gov/1010ez.htm.

Q: I am currently receiving VA health care. Should I drop my civilian health care coverage?

A: Since VA health care depends primarily on annual congressional appropriations, VA encourages veterans to retain any health care coverage they may already have -- especially those in the lower enrollment priority groups. Veterans with private health insurance or with federally funded coverage through the Department of Defense (TRICARE), Medicare, or Medicaid, may choose to use these sources of coverage as a supplement to their VA benefits.

Please note: Before canceling insurance coverage, enrolled veterans should consider the risks:

» There is no guarantee that in subsequent years Congress will appropriate sufficient funds for VA to provide care for all enrollment priority groups.
» Non-veteran spouses and other family members generally do not quality for VA health care.
» If participation in Medicare Part B is canceled, it cannot be reinstated until January of the next year and there may be a penalty for the reinstatement.

If you have any questions on whether to retain your civilian health care coverage, contact the VA at 433-0600.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin, can be reached by phone at 294-4075 or by e-mail at gkakesako@starbulletin.com.

See also: In The Military

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