The United States Department of Veterans Affairs considers any person who served on active duty in the military and who was discharged under any circumstances other than a dishonorable discharge to be a veteran for the purposes of health care. Costs vary between different groups of veterans, however.
The VA is only allotted a limited budget each year with which to enroll veterans in health care services, so veterans who are new to the system are divided into priority groups to ensure that the most needy are able to enroll quickly.
Priority Group 1, the highest group, consists of veterans with service-connected disabilities rated at 50 percent or higher and veterans determined to be unemployable due to their service-connected conditions. Priority Group 2 consists of veterans with a disability rating of 30 to 40 percent. Priority Group 3 consists of veterans with a disability rating of 10 to 20 percent, former POWs, recipients of the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor, and certain other disabled veterans. Priority Group 4 consists of veterans determined to be catastrophically disabled or those who are housebound. Priority Groups 5 through 8 are for veterans who do not have a rated disability, and income generally factors into how highly the veteran is placed. Placement in Groups 7 and 8 may require the veteran to agree to copays.