For all the virtues of the Veterans Affairs health care system, its approach to dental services has caused many people to grind their teeth.
Some 8 million veterans are enrolled to receive VA medical treatment. But the only ones eligible to receive dental care from the VA are those rated 100-percent disabled, [or] with a service-connected oral condition.
“This has long been a sore spot for veterans,” said Gaston County (North Carolina) Veterans Services Director Kurt Geske, adding that only a few hundred thousand of the 8 million veterans fit that description. Delays in care of up to three years have been reported, for veterans otherwise completely eligible, and promised, such vital care. Veterans not presently qualified are completely on their own, and most cannot afford dental care.
Relief could arrive next year for many who have been left out, however, including thousands of vets in Gaston County. The VA is implementing a comprehensive national VA Dental Insurance Program to allow eligible veterans to purchase affordable dental insurance. Veterans’ beneficiaries and certain family members are also eligible.
“This new program potentially affects thousands of Gaston County residents who probably don’t have private dental insurance,” Geske said.
The VA announced the new venture last month along with Delta Dental and MetLife, which will provide the coverage via multiple plans. Covered services include diagnostic, preventative, surgical, emergency and endodontic/restorative treatment.