TRICARE and VA Benefit Comparison

The chart below compares health care benefits available through TRICARE and Veterans' Affairs (VA). For TRICARE, some of the services listed below may vary depending on your health plan. Your TRICARE health plan rules and costs will apply. For VA benefits, your eligibility and copayment are based on factors such as character of discharge, service-connection or income.

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

Covered under the TRICARE pharmacy program. Available at military pharmacies, network pharmacies and via home delivery.

Prescribed by a VA provider and generally only available under VA's national formulary system.

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

While on active duty, your dental care is provided 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 dental care for you and your family through the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program.

Eligibility for VA dental benefits is based on specific guidelines and differs significantly from eligibility requirements for medical care.  Visit www.va.gov for a list of eligibility criteria.

Note: Recently discharged veterans must apply to VA within 90 days of discharge for a one time correction of dental conditions, provided such dental care was not completed (as noted on your DD Form 214).

Last Updated 4/8/2014