The VA wasn’t alone among health systems in rapidly increasing available telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it may have unique barriers to providing its beneficiaries with long-distance care.
Fifteen percent of veterans didn’t have a household internet connection as of 2019, according to Federal Communications cited by the VA. That’s five percentage points higher than the general population, per a contemporary survey. And while these figures may have decreased in recent years, there are millions of veterans who remain unable, or unwilling, to access virtual services.
If you know any of these veterans, or if you face technological hurdles to accessing the full suite of VA telehealth products, here are some options:
- Talk to your doctor. VA providers can connect patients with a VA social worker as part of a Digital Divide Consult. That social worker can determine a beneficiary’s eligibility for one of a number of programs designed to assist veterans, low-income individuals, or other groups in need of internet service.
[RELATED: Many Veterans, Survivors Now Eligible for Free or Discounted Internet]
- Find mobile support. Many cellular carriers have agreed to connect users to the VA Video Connect app without charging for data in some cases. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and TracPhone are among the providers with such arrangements; visit the VA website for details and contact information for each provider.
- Find a telehealth site. ATLAS, or Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations, allows veterans to engage with their providers from remote locations. More than a dozen sites are in operation, with others expected online soon. Click here for a list of locations, hours, and contact information.
Learn more about the VA’s telehealth offerings at this link.
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