The Veterans Choice Program offers community-based care to veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system. If you’re a veteran struggling with substance use, the program provides several options including detoxification, counseling, therapy, treatment for mental health conditions, relapse support, and more.

What Is the Veterans Choice Program?

The Veterans Choice Program provides eligible veterans access to healthcare from providers in their community rather than waiting for a Veteran’s Administration (VA) appointment.1 In addition to other healthcare services, the program provides several options for veterans struggling with substance use including detoxification, counseling, therapy, treatment for mental health conditions, relapse support, and more.2

The stress of training, deployment and other aspects of military life can contribute to substance use in veterans. In fact, more than 10% of veterans who seek care at the VA meet the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder (SUD).3

The VCP was introduced in the Veterans’ Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 and aims to create more access to healthcare by allowing veterans to seek care from eligible non-VA healthcare providers in their community.4,5

Through the Mission Act of 2018, the VCP was replaced by a similar program, the Veterans Community Care Program, effective June 2019.6 This program expands the eligibility criteria by location, medical standards, and situations where seeing a community-based provider is in the veteran’s best interest.7

What Does the Veterans Choice Program Cover?

Healthcare coverage through the VCP is unique for each veteran, but all plans meet the required minimum essential health coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).8 All veterans will receive care that helps to:8

  • Improve functionality.
  • Prevent health problems in the future.
  • Improve quality of life.
  • Treat illness and injury.

More specifically, healthcare coverage through the VCP includes care and services such as:8

  • Assisted living and home health care.
  • Diagnostic tests.
  • Inpatient hospital services like acute care, specialized care, surgery, and more.
  • Mental health services for selected issues, including SUDs.
  • Prescriptions approved or prescribed by a VA doctor.
  • Preventive education, exams, genetic counseling, and immunizations.
  • Therapy and rehabilitation services.
  • Urgent care and emergency services at some VA facilities.

This is only a partial list of healthcare and services included. Visit the VA website for more information about VA health benefits.

Does the Veterans Choice Program Cover Drug and Alcohol Rehab Treatment?

Yes, the VA healthcare provides drug and alcohol rehab treatment depending on a veteran’s individual needs. This care is considered one of the 10 essential health benefits provided by all long-term insurance plans under the ACA. Under the ACA, behavioral health treatment, inpatient behavioral and mental health care, and treatment for SUDs) must be provided.9,10 VA healthcare also includes treatment for conditions that may be related to substance use, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Types of Addiction Treatment that the Veterans Choice Program May Cover

Rehab options may include different levels of care, including:

  • Medical detox: Stopping the use of certain substances can cause withdrawal symptoms ranging from uncomfortable to dangerous. Medical detox uses medications and professional support to reduce symptoms and prevent complications.
  • Inpatient programs: Inpatient rehab provides intensive, structured therapy in a home-like setting. Here, patients get the care and resources they need to manage their addiction.
  • Outpatient programs: Outpatient treatment allows patients to live at home while receiving treatment several hours per week, depending on individual needs.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP): IOPs involve attending treatment multiple times a week for several hours at a time. This type of program is more time-intensive than a typical outpatient program, but patients can still live at home.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): Also known as day treatment programs, PHPs provide structure and intensity similar to inpatient programs, but patients return home daily.
  • Aftercare: Any ongoing treatment after rehab is considered aftercare. The aim is to maintain recovery, prevent relapse, and live with a sense of purpose.

Check Your Rehab Coverage

If you’re struggling with substance use, it can be overwhelming to think about what treatment option is best for you. Knowing exactly what is covered can give you peace of mind. To find out exactly what your insurance covers, you can call the number on the back of your insurance card, verify your insurance online, or fill out the form below.

Are Rehab Centers Covered by the Veterans Choice Program?

Per the VA, veterans can select any VA facility that is convenient for them. However, if the facility cannot provide the health care that is needed, the VA will make other care arrangements.11

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a community care provider in the VA’s provider network. If you are eligible for the VCP and would like to know whether your benefits may cover the full or partial cost of treatment at an AAC rehab center, you can check your coverage online, sign up for text support, or contact us at to learn more.

Does Veterans Choice Program Cover Mental Health Treatment?

Yes, along with drug and alcohol rehab, VA healthcare provides treatment for mental health services, which often occur along with an SUD. Like SUDs, mental healthcare is also one of the 10 essential health benefits provided by all long-term insurance plans under the ACA.9,10

How Much of the Rehab Cost Does the Veterans Choice Program Cover?

Coverage through the VCP will vary as benefits are unique for each veteran. Veterans can get additional help through Medicaid, which covers more than 76 million people as of June 2021.12 Approximately 1 in 10 non-elderly veterans use Medicaid. For 40% of those, Medicaid is their only coverage.13

While Medicaid often covers rehab for substance use, benefits vary from state to state. For information about your benefits, visit your state’s Medicaid website.

What Should I Do If the Cost of Rehab Is Not Fully Covered?

Substance use can affect nearly every part of your life, including your health and personal and professional relationships. Deciding to seek treatment is a priceless investment in yourself. If your insurance doesn’t fully cover treatment, you still have options. Many rehab facilities offer sliding scale options, in which the cost of treatment is adjusted based on what you can pay. Other options you can consider include grants, loans, payment plans, and scholarships.

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