VA offers urgent care services to eligible Veterans at VA medical facilities or in-network urgent care clinics closer to home. Under the new urgent care/retail location benefit created in the MISSION Act, Veterans enrolled in VA’s health care system can use VA’s urgent care benefit to treat minor injuries and illnesses that are not life-threatening, such as colds, strep throat, sprained muscles, and skin and ear infections. This benefit allows Veterans to access urgent care/retail location clinics within their community through VA’s community care network.
But as a veteran, how do you know if you need urgent care or emergency care? Here are a few tips:
- Urgent care is for non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries such as strep throat, pink eye, or a strained muscle.
- Emergency care is for an injury, illness, or symptom so severe that a delay in seeking immediate medical attention would be hazardous to life or health.
- Such life-threatening major illnesses or injuries could include severe chest pain, seizures, loss of awareness, heavy, uncontrollable breathing, or severe burns.
- For emergency care, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
That means, as a veteran, you have options for your urgent care. You can go to your VA clinic, or you can go to a VA authorized urgent care center. To be eligible for urgent care in the community, there are a few things to remember:
- You need to be enrolled in the VA health care system AND
- You need to have received care through VA from either a VA or community provider within the past 24 months.
So now that you know the difference between urgent care and emergency care, and you know your options for eligibility of the benefit, the next steps are how to access them. Here’s how:
- If you are enrolled in VA health care, you can use the VA Facility Locator to find in-network urgent care locations online at https://www.va.gov/find-locations/.
- Please bring a valid, government-issued photo ID to the in-network urgent care location/pharmacy.
- Ask and verify the urgent care provider/pharmacy is in the VA network.
- Call 866-620-2071 for assistance if you have difficulty receiving urgent care or filling your urgent care prescription.
- DO NOT pay a copayment at the time of urgent care visit.
By following these steps and using these tips, you can better understand how to get the care you need when you need it.