By Debbie Gregory.
On February 20th , the VA announced the launch of their newly designed Veteran Health Identification Cards. The new cards are being dubbed the Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC). They will distinguish themselves from older cards by including additional security features and a new look.
For starters, the new cards will be more personalized, as they will display the emblem of the service branch that the Veteran served in. The new cards will also include VA phone numbers, emergency care instructions and “VA” in Braille to assist visually impaired Veterans.
VHICs will function more like civilian health insurance cards than the predecessor. The new cards purpose, as stated on VA’s website, says, ‘The VHIC is for identification and check-in at VA appointments. It cannot be used as a credit card or an insurance card, and it does not authorize or pay for care at non-VA facilities.” The new cards will display the Veteran’s member identification number, and identify which plan type the member is enrolled in. The new VHICs will be more secure by not containing any personal information in the barcode or magnetic strip.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said, “VA is committed to providing high quality health care while ensuring the personal security of Veterans. These new identification cards are an important step forward in protecting our nation’s heroes from identity theft and other personal crimes.”
The Veteran Identification Cards (VIC), first introduced in 2004, will be phased out. The plan to phase out the older VICs will start this month. The new VHIC will be given to all newly enrolled Veterans who have not been issued a VIC. Beginning in early April, the VA will start the three month process of issuing VHIC to existing members to replace their VICs. When this happens, the VA recommends that Veterans dispose of their VIC as they would a credit card: by shredding or cutting up the old card.
VHICs are not required in order to receive VA healthcare. But the VA requests and recommends that all Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare possess and maintain a VHIC.
Enrolled Veterans can also get more information about the VHIC by visiting their VA medical facility enrollment coordinator or by calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visiting their local VA health care facility.