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VA offers new dental benefits

For many years, the Veterans Administration (VA) has offered Veterans and their dependents dental benefits on a restrictive basis. Many Veterans failed to qualify for the VA's dental coverage. The good news for Veterans is that's about to change!

On Nov. 15th, the VA announced the start of the VA Dental Insurance Program (VADIP). The program is a partnership between the VA, Delta Dental and Metlife to provide dental insurance that Veterans can purchase. VADIP is designed for Veterans with no dental insurance or those who are eligible for VA dental care. Participation in VADIP is voluntary and will have no other effect on any other VA coverage that a Veteran receives.

Previously, only those who were 100% service-connected disabled, had service-connected dental injuries, or in a homeless VA-sponsored grant and per diem program were qualified to receive VA dental benefits.

Beginning January 1, 2014 qualified Veterans throughout the country can begin receiving coverage. Veterans will have to be enrolled in the VA healthcare system in order to be eligible to participate. Veterans will be responsible for all premiums, which range between $8.65 to $52.90 per month for individual coverage. Certain procedures will require a waiting period and insurance companies will require a credit card payment or a direct-deposit payment up front.

Dental services and coverage differ by plan. Services include: emergency, diagnostic, endodontic treatment, oral surgical procedures and restorative treatments.

The VA has famously provided free dental services for Veterans with dental problems connected to a medical condition that's officially certified as “service connected.” These free dental services will continue for those Veterans.

Eligibility for VADIP is extended to dependents who receive care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA). CHAMPVA participants are usually spouses, survivors or dependent children of Veterans officially rated as permanently and totally disabled by a service connected condition.

For more information on VADIP, visit www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vadip or contact Delta Dental at (855) 370-3303 or MetLife at (888) 310-1681.

Veterans interested in participating can complete an application online through either Delta Dental at www.deltadentalvadip.org or MetLife at www.metlife.com/vadip.

Ted Puntillo is director of Veteran Services for Solano County. Reach him at 784-6590 or TEPuntillo@SolanoCounty.com. The Solano County Veteran Services Office, 675 Texas St. in Fairfield, is open from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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