Online Tool Aiming to Boost Access to Health Care for Vets


Of the 142,176 veterans living in Nebraska, only 33% have utilized their earned benefits at VA health care, according to U.S. Census data. (Adobe Stock via NNC)
By 
Eric Galatas
Nebraska News Connection

November is National Veterans and Military Families Month, and AARP has launched a free, one-stop online resource to help more families access health care.

More than 340,000 veterans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and Veterans Affairs medical centers have reported nearly 15,000 deaths.

Todd Stubbendieck, state director of AARP Nebraska, said now more than ever, veterans and military families need help navigating what can be a complicated enrollment process to get the health-care benefits they earned.

“It’s a lot for people to navigate,” Stubbendieck said. “And what AARP has come up with is an online resource that will help them navigate the benefits, the requirements and what they are eligible to receive.”

Nearly 60% of veterans nationwide are eligible for health care services through the VA, but less than half actually tap those benefits, according to analysis by RAND.

Stubbendieck said the quality of VA care is widely viewed as equal to or better than care delivered in the private sector. The Veterans and Military Families Health Benefits Navigator is available online at AARP.org/VetsHealthNavigator.

Misunderstanding or frustration with the application process, and confusion about qualification requirements, are seen as the biggest barriers for veterans trying to access health benefits. And Stubbendieck said health care needs can also change over time.

“While someone may have been eligible for VA health care benefits earlier in their life, and chose not to do it, as they get later in life they may decide that they want health care at the VA,” Stubbendieck said. “It’s about tailoring and finding the right fit for them and their particular health care needs.”

Stubbendieck said the new online resource provides a thorough overview of available health benefits, including specific documentation families will need to have ready. He added it can also help families connect with a real person who has experience navigating the enrollment process.

This article was produced by the Nebraska News Connection, part of the national Public News Service. Find more at publicnewsservice.org.

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