How veterans can get coronavirus tests through the VA, Tricare

Use these tips for getting a COVID-19 test at a Veterans Affairs facility

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On Friday, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released its plan for dealing with the coronavirus.

Some of the provisions in the COVID-19 Response Plan include moving some outpatient care to telehealth services and postponing non-emergency procedures, according to a press release.

According to the VA website, the agency tested 8,986 patients for COVID-19 throughout the country,  and the agency has more than 100,000 tests still available, according to AARP.

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“VA has taken a number of significant steps over the past few weeks to maximize capacity and resources so that the department will be ready if called upon by FEMA and HHS to provide assistance to select non-VA health care systems and communities,” VA press secretary Christina Mandreucci said, according to AARP.

However, the VA in New York City has been struggling to provide enough care to veterans with the virus, Reuters reported on Friday.

According to the wire service, the VA must offer care to civilians in an emergency, but the increase in coronavirus cases has hit the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Brooklyn just like any other hospital in New York City.

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If you are a veteran in need of a coronavirus test, here are the steps to take and the information you need, according to the VA and AARP.

Contact your local VA facility before going in

If you are a veteran and you have symptoms, do not to immediately go into your local facility, the VA said.

There are several options you can take, including contacting your local VA facility, sending a secure message via My HealtheVet or using other “telehealth options” to “receive a prompt diagnosis,” the VA website said.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough or shortness of breath.

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Arrive early

Everyone who goes to the VA for a COVID-19 test will be screened for flu-like symptoms, the website said. After the initial screening, the VA said a “healthcare professional will assist you with next steps.”

If you have Tricare, schedule an appointment

According to the AARP, veterans who have Tricare -- a health program for military members, veterans and their families -- can arrange a test at a military treatment facility through an in-person or telehealth visit.

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If those facilities don’t have coronavirus tests, a sample will be sent to another lab, AARP said.

How much does a test cost?

According to AARP, the COVID-19 test is free to veterans through the VA or Tricare.

Veterans who are enrolled in Tricare will still have to pay a copay for the office visit, AARP said.

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