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Community Care

Definition Community Care, in the context of VA benefits, refers to medical services provided to eligible veterans outside of VA facilities, through external healthcare providers within the community. This initiative aims to offer more accessible and convenient care options for veterans while ensuring timely delivery of services. Veterans may be eligible for Community Care if […]


Community Care, in the context of VA benefits, refers to medical services provided to eligible veterans outside of VA facilities, through external healthcare providers within the community. This initiative aims to offer more accessible and convenient care options for veterans while ensuring timely delivery of services. Veterans may be eligible for Community Care if the required service is not available at a VA facility or if the veteran faces specific challenges in accessing healthcare at VA facilities.

Key Takeaways

  1. Community Care refers to the healthcare services provided to eligible veterans through local healthcare providers outside of the VA system, enabling better access to timely and convenient care.
  2. Eligibility for Community Care varies and depends on various factors, including availability of VA services, wait times, and distance from a VA facility.
  3. The Veterans Community Care Program streamlines and expands access to care, ensuring that veterans receive quality health services while reducing the burden on VA medical facilities.


Community Care is a crucial term in VA benefits as it signifies the provision of healthcare services to eligible veterans through external, non-VA providers.

This concept plays a pivotal role in ensuring veterans have timely and convenient access to healthcare services, especially when certain treatments or specialists are not readily available within the VA’s facilities.

By partnering with community providers and extending these services outside the VA network, veterans can experience increased flexibility, variety in healthcare options, and a greater geographical reach.

Overall, Community Care is essential in demonstrating the VA’s commitment to delivering comprehensive healthcare support and honoring the sacrifices made by these veterans in their service to the nation.


Community Care is an integral aspect of the wide array of services offered under the VA benefits umbrella, aimed at fulfilling the needs and ensuring the wellbeing of eligible veterans. At its core, the purpose of Community Care is to provide eligible veterans with access to effective, timely, and high-quality healthcare services, which may not be easily accessible within the VA healthcare system.

By carefully addressing aspects that extend beyond the traditional VA set up — such as geographical limitations, capacity constraints, and service unavailability — Community Care aims to bridge gaps and build strong connections with non-VA healthcare providers and networks to offer a comprehensive healthcare solution tailored to the specific needs of veterans. In practical terms, Community Care finds use in a multitude of situations where VA facilities might be unable to single-handedly cater to the requirements of the veterans.

For instance, in remote areas where VA medical facilities are not available nearby, or when a particular treatment is not offered within the VA system, Community Care collaborates with non-VA entities to make these services available to eligible veterans. This dynamic and adaptive approach embodies VA’s commitment to providing the best possible care to veterans, regardless of geography or available services.

By collaborating with trusted networks of local non-VA providers, Community Care strives to ensure that eligible veterans receive the essential healthcare services they deserve in a timely and efficient manner, upholding the highest standards of care.

Examples of Community Care

The VA Benefits term, “Community Care,” refers to healthcare services provided to eligible veterans outside of the traditional VA healthcare system. This program ensures that veterans receive proper healthcare even when the needed services are not available at the VA facility or when it is more accessible and convenient to use a community healthcare provider. Here are three real-world examples of Community Care:

Urgent Care: If a veteran requires urgent care for a minor injury or illness, such as a sprained ankle or a persistent cough, they may be eligible to receive care at an approved community urgent care clinic. This allows them to receive timely medical assistance without having to visit a VA medical facility. The Department of Veterans Affairs covers the cost for these services through the Community Care program.

Veterans in Rural Areas: Veterans living in rural or remote areas may not have easy access to VA healthcare facilities due to distance or travel constraints. In such cases, the VA may authorize veterans to receive medical care from a local healthcare provider within their community to ensure they receive the necessary treatment without the need for extensive travel.

Specialized Medical Services: There are instances when a veteran may need specialized medical services or procedures that are not available at their closest VA facility. In such situations, the VA Community Care program may enable the veteran to receive care from an approved community care provider that specializes in the required services. This collaborative arrangement allows veterans to receive the care they need by leveraging the expertise of non-VA healthcare providers.

FAQ Section: Community Care

What is Community Care?

Community Care is a program provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that allows eligible veterans to receive medical care from health care providers outside of the VA system. This program aims to ensure that veterans have access to timely, high-quality care when VA facilities are unavailable or unable to provide the required services or when veterans meet certain eligibility criteria.

How do I become eligible for Community Care?

Eligibility for Community Care depends on several factors including your specific health care needs, your location, and the availability of services at VA facilities. The VA will determine your eligibility based on one or more criteria such as if you: live more than 40 miles away from the nearest VA facility, need a service unavailable at the VA, face an excessive wait time at the VA, or the local VA facility does not meet established quality standards.

How do I find a community provider?

The VA partners with a wide range of community providers to deliver care to eligible veterans. If the VA determines you are eligible for Community Care, you will receive a list of providers in your area. You can also search for a community provider through the VA’s online provider search tool.

Do I need to obtain prior authorization to receive Community Care?

Yes, for most services, you will need to obtain prior authorization from the VA before you can receive care from a community provider. The authorization process ensures that the care you receive is matched to your needs, and that the appropriate providers are used. Failure to obtain prior authorization may result in a denial of payment for the services provided.

Will the VA cover the costs of my care through Community Care?

If you are eligible for Community Care and have received prior authorization from the VA, the VA will cover the costs of your care. However, you may still be responsible for copayments, cost-sharing, or other out-of-pocket expenses depending on your specific VA benefit coverage and eligibility. It is essential to verify your financial responsibility prior to receiving care to avoid any unexpected expenses.

How can I appeal a decision regarding my eligibility for Community Care?

If you disagree with the VA’s decision regarding your eligibility for Community Care, you have the right to file an appeal. The appeal process involves submitting a written request for further review by the VA within one year of the decision date. You can submit your appeal through the VA’s website, by mail, or in person at a VA regional office. Additional information on the appeal process can be found on the VA’s website.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Eligibility Criteria
  • Non-VA Healthcare Providers
  • Veterans Choice Program
  • Community Care Network (CCN)
  • Referral and Authorization Process

Sources for More Information

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