TRICARE and VA Benefit Comparison

You can compare health care benefits available through TRICARE and Veterans' Affairs (VA) below.

TRICARE Benefits

VA Benefits

Your services may vary depending on your health plan.  

Your eligibility and copayment depend on:

  • Discharge,
  • Service-connection, or
  • Income

Your TRICARE health plan rules and costs will apply.
  

Type of Care TRICARE Benefits VA Benefits
Outpatient Services
  • Ambulance services
  • Ancillary services, like laboratory, X-ray
  • Emergency care in military or civilian facilities
  • Eye exams and glasses
  • Home health care
  • Medical or surgical care, like individual provider services
  • Maternity and obstetric services
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Pediatric services
  • Ancillary services like laboratory, X-ray
  • Bereavement counseling
  • Chiropractic care
  • Eye exams
  • Home health care
  • Maternity and obstetric services
  • Medical or surgical care
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Substance abuse
  • Surgical, like reconstructive and plastic surgery as a result of disease or trauma
  • Transportation services
Inpatient Services
  • Emergency care in military or civilian facilities
  • Hospitalization
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Skilled nursing facility care
  • Substance abuse
  • Surgical care
  • Emergency care
  • Hospitalization
  • Nursing home
  • Medical care
  • Centers of excellence, like multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, blind rehabilitation, mental health
  • Polytrauma centers
  • Surgical, like reconstructive and plastic surgery as a result of disease or trauma
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Substance abuse
Preventive Services
  • Health education and counseling
  • Hearing screening
  • Immunizations
  • Physical exams
  • Screening tests, like mammograms, pap smears, cardiac screenings, prostate exams, colorectal exams, cholesterol, blood pressure, skin cancer
  • Vision screening
  • Health care assessments
  • Health education programs
  • Immunizations
  • Physical exams
  • Screening tests
Prescriptions

The TRICARE pharmacy program covers prescriptions. They’re available via military pharmacies, network pharmacies, and home delivery.

A VA provider must write the prescription.  They’re generally only available under VA's national formulary.

Supplies
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Medical supplies
  • Prosthetic devices
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Medical and surgical supplies
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Prosthetic devices
  • Sensory-neural aids (i.e. eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids)
Dental Care

While on active duty, you get your care at dental treatment facilities or through the Active Duty Dental Program.

Family members and members of the National Guard or Reserve are eligible for the TRICARE Dental Program.  

As a retiree, you can purchase care for you and your family through the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program.

VA dental care rules for differ a lot from the medical care rules.  Visit www.va.gov for a list.

Note: If you’re a recently discharged veteran, you must apply to VA within 90 days of discharge.  You may be able to get a one time correction of dental conditions. Some exceptions apply.

Last Updated 10/3/2014