Florida has the third-highest population of Veterans in the country with more than 1.5 million active or former service members, according to the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Thanks to the legislative changes we’ll discuss in this post, many Veterans in the Palm Bay, Florida area, can now seek out walk-in services at Restore Health Urgent Care.

In 2019, a new Veteran’s Affairs urgent care program was introduced to allow Veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system to visit a civilian urgent care provider for free without making an appointment under certain circumstances. The program became effective on June 6, 2019, as a component of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Mission Act, which you can learn more about here.

In addition to expanding the number of walk-in and urgent care clinics, this act includes improving access to medications prescribed by non-VA physicians and maintaining copayment rates with community physicians.

How Does It Work?

Once a Veteran is enrolled in the VA health care system and they have seen a VA doctor or a civilian doctor (under the VA Choice program) within the last 24 months, these Veterans can visit an urgent care center in the VA’s network. Veterans must declare upon arrival that they are using their VA benefit. Before providing care, an urgent care clinic will verify your eligibility.

If you’re not eligible for this coverage and you still receive medical treatment, you’ll be responsible for the full bill. VA can only provide coverage for medical treatment provided by part of their contracted network, which is another reason it’s vital to declare your intention to use your VA urgent care benefit upon arrival. Keep in mind, you may receive a separate bill from VA for your copayment, but this will depend on your assigned priority group and how many times you’ve used this benefit within one calendar year.

Typically, you’ll only have to verify your eligibility one time. To find out ahead of time if you’re eligible, call the VA at 866-606-8198, or contact your regular VA medical office. If you’re at an urgent care center and having difficulty receiving care, call 866‑620‑2071 for assistance.

FAQs About This Program

Will VA pay for or fill urgent care prescriptions? The VA will pay for or fill prescriptions for urgent care, but for an urgent care prescription medication needed longer than a 14-day supply, the prescription needs to be submitted to VA to be filled. If a Veteran uses a pharmacy outside of the VA network, Veterans will need to pay for the prescription up front and then file a claim for reimbursement with their local VA medical facility.

Can my family members use this benefit? No, only eligible Veterans can use the urgent care benefit and it is non-transferrable.

What is the difference between urgent care and emergency care? Non-emergent health situations can be treated at urgent care centers. For serious or life-threatening illnesses and injuries, emergency care should be sought out. In an emergency situation, heading to an emergency room is the best choice because they will have the necessary supplies and personnel to address the situation. VA describes an emergency medical situation as “an injury, illness, or symptom so severe that a prudent layperson reasonably believes that delay in seeking immediate medical attention would be hazardous to life or health.”

We also expand more on the topic of urgent care vs. emergency care in this blog post.

Covered Veteran’s Services

The Department of Veterans Affairs shares certain information about which services may be covered at an urgent care clinic, including:

  • Colds
  • Ear infections
  • Minor injuries
  • Pink eye
  • Skin infections
  • Strep throat

In addition to these services, the VA benefit could also cover diagnostic services including X-rays, some lab testing, and certain medications (with limitations). If a therapeutic vaccine is required to treat a covered condition, this vaccination could also be covered by the benefit.

Does this Veteran’s Health Care Benefit Cover Flu Shots?

Because the services provided at an urgent care clinic or hospital emergency room are typically for reactive care rather than preventative care, that’s what most of the coverage pertains to. This means that other than the flu shot, vaccines and other preventive care services are not covered under this benefit.

Through their partnership with Walgreens, Veterans can receive free flu shots at any Walgreens if you tell the pharmacist you receive care at a VA facility, and show your Veterans Health Identification Card and another form of photo ID. As this health benefit is expanded in the coming months and years, flu vaccines will be made more widely available. Click here if you’d like to learn more about the VA Retail Immunization Care Coordination Program.

We’ve also shared more on our blog about flu vaccines, including how they work, efficacy, their side effects, and much more. Find it here.

Restore Health Urgent Care in Palm Bay

If you’re ever in doubt about your health, seeking a higher level of care is the right choice. For serious health conditions, Veterans and civilians are encouraged to visit a hospital emergency room where the necessary resources are available to treat their condition.

Restore Health Urgent Care in Palm Bay is here to provide Veterans, civilians, and their families, convenient and affordable healthcare services for non-life threatening illnesses and medical conditions. We have on-site laboratory services, digital imaging, and X-rays to treat you quickly and effectively.

These are just some of the common injuries and illnesses we regularly treat:

  • Abscesses
  • Cysts
  • Diarrhea
  • Animal bites
  • Vomiting
  • Sports injuries
  • Fever
  • Back pain
  • Headaches/migraines

To see a full list of our services, click here. 

We also offer a convenient option check in online and Restore Health Urgent Care is always happy to accept walk-ins!