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Question for my fellow Vets


Brent H.

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Like many Vets I use the VA healthcare system quite frequently. My question for everyone is what your experience with the VA has been like for cancer treatment. While I have yet to be diagnosed positively for cancer I am asking more out of curiosity than necessity. I do have private insurance as well. If I do get the diagnosis I am leaning toward Community Care route since the closest VA hospital to me is almost an hour and a half away. I am hoping and praying I don't need to find out, but I do like having contingencies in place ahead of time. 

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Brent,

Welcome here.

I didn't use the VA hospital system when diagnosed with lung cancer. As a retired soldier, I was (am) eligible for TRICARE and in 2004, I was working full time and had the benefit of a very good employer-provided health insurance plan. So, I can't give a first hand report but I've known many Vets who've been treated for lung cancer in the VA system. And, from their reports, treatment is, on par, with that received from civilian hospitals. Of course, the most important benefit, especially if one is treated with targeted therapy or immunotherapy, is the no cost basis to the Veteran. Co-pays for exotic chemo drugs often require deep pockets.

Most complaints about VA medicine is negotiating the treatment eligibility priority. If you are contemplating civilian care, a good plan may be to use that resource, and keep the VA in reserve in the event you are prescribed exotic pill form chemotherapy. Then I'd use the VA pharmacy to obtain your medicine cost free and avoid taking a second mortgage out on your home to settle co-pays.

Stay the course.

Tom

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15 minutes ago, Tom Galli said:

Brent,

Welcome here.

I didn't use the VA hospital system when diagnosed with lung cancer. As a retired soldier, I was (am) eligible for TRICARE and in 2004, I was working full time and had the benefit of a very good employer-provided health insurance plan. So, I can't give a first hand report but I've known many Vets who've been treated for lung cancer in the VA system. And, from their reports, treatment is, on par, with that received from civilian hospitals. Of course, the most important benefit, especially if one is treated with targeted therapy or immunotherapy, is the no cost basis to the Veteran. Co-pays for exotic chemo drugs often require deep pockets.

Most complaints about VA medicine is negotiating the treatment eligibility priority. If you are contemplating civilian care, a good plan may be to use that resource, and keep the VA in reserve in the event you are prescribed exotic pill form chemotherapy. Then I'd use the VA pharmacy to obtain your medicine cost free and avoid taking a second mortgage out on your home to settle co-pays.

Stay the course.

Tom

Unfortunately I did not retire. I separated after 8 years so I wasn't eligible for Tricare. I have the insurance through my wife's job and having a service connected disability most of my costs are covered by the VA. They always bill my other insurance first and then pick up the remainder. I figure I have a reasonable chance at Community Care due to the distance from the VA hospital. I have used it several times on the past for other issues. I have experience with the cancer center in my town due to my wife currently receiving treatment from them for thyroid cancer. I was wondering because the most serious care I have received from them was having a tonsillectomy.

 

Thanks for the welcome. I am very happy that I found this resource.

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/16/2021 at 10:29 AM, Brent H. said:

Like many Vets I use the VA healthcare system quite frequently. My question for everyone is what your experience with the VA has been like for cancer treatment. While I have yet to be diagnosed positively for cancer I am asking more out of curiosity than necessity. I do have private insurance as well. If I do get the diagnosis I am leaning toward Community Care route since the closest VA hospital to me is almost an hour and a half away. I am hoping and praying I don't need to find out, but I do like having contingencies in place ahead of time. 

Big forum but new here. My Husband being a VET has not been too happy with them for healthcare. Now with the possibility of having lung cancer, we are scared like crazy!

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1 hour ago, Tom Galli said:

I understand scared like crazy! The possibility alone is bad enough; it becomes more unsettling facing an uncertain and confusing health care system. 

If you have no medical insurance, the best thing to do is to quickly transition to a VA treatment facility. Has you husband ever received VA health care? If he has, then go to the nearest VA hospital and take the diagnostic tests and records with you. 

If he's not had VA health care or not registered with the VA and been assigned a VA health priority group, then we've got some bureaucratic hurdles to climb. Fortunately, your state, North Carolina, has Veterans Services Officers in each county. They will be able to help you navigate the complicated VA registration process. Look online for your county government and in particular for the County Veterans Services Officer. Give the officer a call. They generally see folks pretty quickly. Also look in your husband's files for his DD Form 214. He'll need to show this to the County Veterans Services Officer. If you can't find the DD Form 214, then the County Veterans Services Officer will be able to help generate a duplicate record.

Here is a link from the Veterans Administration that defines eligibility for VA provided health care. As you can see, things get pretty complicated. Read the information at the top of the page highlighted in the gray box that answers the question: "Am I eligible for VA Health Care Benefits." If your husband meets this eligibility requirement, the North Carolina county Veterans Services Officer will be able to quickly get your husband's VA priority group assigned. Here is a link showing where the VA treatment facilities are located along with telephone numbers.

Stay the course.

Tom

 

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On 10/29/2021 at 12:31 AM, Tom Galli said:

 

Hello. Yes my Husband has been using his "communiy care" at several hospitals over the course of this year. The VA has failed to pay many tech's and diagnostics, long story short, we have had to spend a lot of time fending off bill collectors that want to sue us. But that is another story all on it's own. Currently our only car is having issues, check engine light, so we are very limited transportation, and do not live close to any VA facilities.  The VA does have all his ongoing records.  We are trying to get a PET Scan set up for him right now, as this mass in his lung popped up in his lung in a mere 2 week time, and is 7.2 cm X 1.8 cm in size per cat scan two weeks ago. We use non traditional treatments along with any medical treatments a doctor will give him.  Biggest fear is how fast and large this mass appeared. I cannot find any good news relating to the mass and how big it is, we are praying the pet scan will give us some hope. My Husband has been in the Hospital from March thru July with lung pneumonia, he came home and has still had pneumonia, so we have had many chest Xrays, and no mass until now. He has trouble breathing bad COPD and pneumonia in same lung that now has this huge mass in. Aside from the beathing issues, he is having night sweats but not much of a fever. He is on a 02 machine, 5L now to keep his 02 up past 92. He has a positive attitude, says he does not think the mass is cancer, not showing anything different in feel as per having pneumonia and being on pills for that and nebulizer use.

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Worried,

Ok. Understand your husband's current state. If he's used "community care" program, he is eligible for VA medical care. First and biggest hurdle taken care of. I don't know why I thought you lived in North Catalina, but no matter.

First problem--getting to a VA hospital with car trouble. I'd ask the nearest American Legion Post or VFW Post to help with transport. Go on line to find the posts and contact points. Most legion and VFW posts have a VSO (Veteran Services Officer) and special funds established to help in circumstances like you are experiencing. They will help even if your husband is not a member. I don't know if your husband has lung cancer or some other problem but the large mass appearing in 2 weeks time is of concern and coupled with COPD and pneumonia, he is sure to need sophisticated and long term care, so get him to a VA hospital. If the legion or VFW can't help, then ask a religious congregation for transport.

I'd try and make contact with a local legion or VFW today and tomorrow such that you can present at a VA hospital on Monday. I'd camp out at the hospital till you are seen and he'll likely be admitted. Bring all his records and test reports along with his VA ID card and DD Form 214.

I hope this helps.

Stay the course.

Tom

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