October 18, 2014

Finding Financial Help for People with Diabetes

When I did this blog on January 10,2013, I knew it was only a start, but I did not realize what would result in more questions. Then with a newsletter from “DiabetesConnect” and a blog on DiabetesMine dot com, I have received several more emails from people asking for more information. This is telling me that there is a greater need for information about finding financial assistance for diabetes supplies and medications.

It is with some trepidation that I tackle it at this time with all the changes that are expected in January 2015 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a., Obamacare. Will any of us be able to afford medical insurance the way it is expected to increase in cost – in come cases? At the same time, we need to be aware of what is presently available to assist people with poor medical insurance or no medical insurance.

I am very happy to give credit for the work others have done to enlighten us, but we need the information put together to prevent people from looking at too many sources and becoming discouraged. One of my questions came from a person that was using a computer in a library, and because of the lines waiting for computers he asked that I send him an email when it was complete so that he could print it off and come back to it when he can get computer time. Because of this, I was able to get the library URL and email them asking for extra time for him. I am very happy for him, as the library has gone beyond the extra step, did a lot of research for him, and help provide him with many local resources. They have put him in touch with several agencies that are helping him. He has written me many thanks and is very thankful for the help the library has given him. He says this is the first time in over two years that he has been able to test his blood glucose and have a dependable supply of insulin. Yes, he was without work, but now has a part-time job and a roof over his head even if it is at a shelter. He is also a veteran of the war in Iraq and having a very difficult time.

Based on this, I will start with the Veterans Administration and their benefits for veterans. First, let me be very specific as veteran's services vary from state to state and each state has their own setup for the location of veteran service offices. The state that you currently reside in determines where the offices are located. In the examples I am using, Iowa is the place that this applies to and I think we are fortunate in that each county has a veteran's assistance office. Normally they are located in the county seat and are generally in the telephone book under Veterans Affairs.

For the state of Iowa, it is part of the Iowa law and required to have an office in each county. Each office is staffed by at least one certified county veterans service officer (CVSO). This means that they have taken an examination and passed it on the state and federal level to be certified at the state and federal level. I know that they help a lot of veterans and in addition, they answer to a three or five member board of veterans that can dismiss CVSOs for cause.

Current service personnel being discharged from active duty are automatically eligible for veteran's benefits for five years from date of discharge. Other prior military service veterans must file an application for benefits and include all copies of DD Form 214 for each period of service. This application can be obtained from the county Veterans Affairs Office.

All VA offices and most VA clinics in Iowa have a booklet titled Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs – State and Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents. It is spiral bound at the top, but I haven't counted the pages. It is 3.5 inches wide by 4.5 inches high.

I highly recommend that all veterans find their local VA office and find out what you are eligible for and when.

No comments: