Veterans and their families can take advantage of a good number of different types of benefits, but often you have to figure that out they exist first. Most veterans are familiar with TRICARE, the health care program that provides coverage to active duty service members and their families. You may be less familiar with CHAMPVA, or you might know it exists, but not really understand what it’s all about. Here are some of the basics you should know.
What is CHAMPVA?
CHAMPVA stands for The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs. CHAMPVA provides comprehensive medical care to those that qualify. The VA shares in the cost of care provided in CHAMPVA and those enrolled in the program can take advantage of many of the same doctors and hospitals used under TRICARE.
The program is run by the Chief Business Office of Purchased Care (CBOPC) in Denver, Colorado. You can find more information on benefits and eligibility on the US Department of Veterans website here.
Who is Eligible for CHAMPVA?
CHAMPVA is designed to help out those veterans and their family members who are no longer covered under TRICARE. You may be eligible for CHAMPVA if you’ve become ineligible for TRICARE due to you or your family member leaving the service, and one of the following accurately describes your situation:
- Your spouse or parent was a service member who has been rated disabled due to a service-related injury by a VA regional office.
- Your spouse or parent was a veteran who died due to a service-related disability.
- Your spouse or parent was a veteran who was rated disabled from a service-related injury at their time of death.
- Your spouse or parent died in the line of duty – although in most cases that means you’d still be eligible for TRICARE, and thus ineligible for CHAMPVA.
CHAMPVA seeks to make sure that families that have struggled due to the sacrifice of a service member get the care they need and deserve, even when they fall off the list for TRICARE.
What’s the Difference Between CHAMPVA and TRICARE?
The coverage for the two programs is actually pretty similar, although they’re completely different programs run by different agencies. In practice, the main difference for veterans is who qualifies for each. TRICARE is primarily for active duty and their family members, those that retire from the service and their families, and survivors of those that die in active duty. CHAMPVA comes into play for families no longer eligible for TRICARE, but that include a family member that either suffers from a disability due to injuries sustained during active duty, or the family members of a disabled veteran who has passed.
How to Apply
If the requirements to be eligible for CHAMPVA sound like they apply to you, you can sign up by filling out the documents provided on this page and, if you’re over 65, providing either your Medicare card, or documentation from the Social Security Administration that you’re not eligible for Medicare.
Send the requested documents to:
Chief Business Office Purchased Care
PO Box 469028
Denver, CO 80246-9028
Or fax them to 303-331-7809.
If you’re eligible for CHAMPVA, the sooner you start taking advantage of your benefits, the easier it will be to manage your health expenses. There’s no reason not to enjoy the benefits you and your family have earned through your service.