VA Insurance & Addiction Treatment For Veterans

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 15, 2023

The VA provides a range of medical benefits, including drug and alcohol treatment, for veterans. The VA also offers mental health treatment, medical care for women, and services for LGBTQ-identifying people.

Does The VA Cover Addiction Treatment?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (or what is commonly called the VA) provides medical care, life insurance, educational programs, home loans, and more for veterans.

The VA was created in 1930 by President Herbert Hoover. It continued to see improvement throughout the 20th century with the inclusion of surgical benefits, home loans after World War II, and other benefits.

In 1989, President Ronald Reagan made the VA the 14th department of the Cabinet.

Since its inception, the VA has played a critical role in making sure that veterans of the U.S. armed forces are provided essential healthcare benefits.

While the VA is not insurance, as such, it operates similarly and interacts with private or government health insurance programs.

Does The VA Cover Rehab?

Yes, the VA covers the treatment of substance use disorders such as alcohol and opioid use disorders as well as other forms of addiction.

This coverage includes inpatient care, outpatient treatment, and the treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD.

The extent of the coverage depends mostly on the nature of the substance use disorder and how severe it is.

Substance Abuse Treatment Services Covered By The VA

The VA covers several substance abuse treatment services at its clinics and hospitals. The table below shows what services are covered or not covered.

Treatment Type Covered Not Covered
Long-Term Residential ✔️
Residential ✔️
Inpatient ✔️
Inpatient Detox ✔️
Partial Hospitalization Program ✔️
Intensive Outpatient Program ✔️
Outpatient Medication-Assisted Treatment ✔️
Dual Diagnosis ✔️

VA Benefits Coverage By Treatment Type

Taking a closer look at coverage by treatment type will help you understand VA benefits for addiction and related mental health disorders.

VA Plan Types

There are no plan types in the VA, because, while the VA acts like an insurance company, it is more like a medical provider and insurance company combined into one.

However, eligible veterans receive assistance in discovering what level of benefits they would most benefit from, including related out-of-pocket expenses.

These levels are called priority groups, and there are eight of them.

Which of these eight groups that veterans are placed in depends on the following:

  • service history
  • any disabilities
  • income
  • eligibility for Medicaid
  • eligibility for other VA benefits

How To Use VA Coverage For Substance Abuse Treatment

The way to use your VA benefits is to go to a medical clinic or hospital in the VA system for treatment. You can’t use your benefits at a civilian facility.

However, you can use other government-funded insurance plans, such as Medicare or Medicaid, if you are eligible, as well as private insurance as secondary insurance.

VA Co-Pays And Deductibles For Addiction Treatment

The VA does not have deductibles, but it does have co-pays, depending on what priority group you are in and what kind of service you need.

The following are the ranges of co-payments depending on your priority group:

  • emergency care co-pays range from nothing to $30
  • outpatient co-pays range from $15 to $50
  • reduced-rate inpatient co-pays range from a $320 co-pay plus a $2 per-day charge for the first 90 days (total) of care and a $160 co-pay plus a $2 per-day charge for an additional 90 days
  • full-rate inpatient co-pays range from a $1,600 co-pay plus a $10 per-day charge for the first 90 days and an $800 co-pay plus a $10 per-day charge for the next 90 days

What Addictions Does The VA Cover?

The VA covers most forms of substance abuse plus related behavioral and mental health issues. This includes what the VA calls “street drugs,” which is an umbrella term that includes several drugs.

The VA covers:

What If My Insurance Plan Doesn’t Cover The Treatment Program I Need?

If VA benefits do not cover the treatment you need, you still have other payment options.

The first thing to consider is other government-funded insurance programs such as Medicaid or Medicare. Provided you meet age or income requirements, you may be able to receive similar benefits as the VA offers for addiction treatment.

You can also look into scholarships. There are non-profit organizations or religious institutions that want to help veterans recover from addiction and find sobriety.

There are also private rehab centers across the nation that offer treatment services specific to veterans and their needs for free or at a low cost.

Finally, a rehab center may be willing to offer payment assistance through a sliding fee scale or a payment plan.

Finding A Rehab Center That Accepts VA Benefits

To use your VA benefits for addiction treatment, you need to go to a VA clinic or hospital in your area.
The VA website has a search function that allows you to find the closest VA facility in your area. You can also call one of the VA call centers for assistance.

If you live in a remote area that is not close to treatment, you may be able to receive telehealth services. However, if you have a severe substance use disorder you may need to travel to a VA hospital for residential treatment.

Find Addiction Treatment Today

If you or a loved one is looking for addiction treatment, you can find it today. Call us to learn more about treatment options and how to access them.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 15, 2023
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