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SAVE LIVES Act Enables Veterans, Spouses and Caregivers to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine through the VA

2021-03-23

In March 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, titled the SAVE LIVES Act (short for the Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize All Veterans and Every Spouse Act), which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer coronavirus vaccines to all Veterans, regardless of whether they’re enrolled in VA health care.

Under the bill, caregivers of Veterans, as well as Veterans living abroad, would also qualify for vaccines through the VA; however, Veterans enrolled into VA health care would receive priority, and the VA will offer vaccinations to the other groups only if the vaccine supply is available.

Who’s Eligible to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine through the VA?

According to the SAVE LIVES Act, covered individuals are:

  • Veterans who are not eligible to enroll in the VA health care system;
  • specified Veterans who are eligible for hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care abroad;
  • family caregivers who are approved as providers of personal care services for Veterans under the VA's Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers;
  • caregivers of Veterans participating in the VA's Program of General Caregiver Support Services; and
  • caregivers of Veterans participating in the VA's Medical Foster Home Program, Bowel and Bladder Program, Home Based Primary Care Program, or Veteran Directed Care Program.

The legislation does not require Veterans or their family members to get a vaccine through VA facilities, but allows them the option to receive it when doses are available.

COVID-19 Vaccine Availability

At this time, the VA still has a limited amount of vaccines but is working to determine how quickly it can begin to offer vaccines to these other groups. There are about 6 million active VA users who receive priority under the new bill, as well as about 450,000 employees.

Note: Your employer, pharmacy, or local public health officials may also offer you a COVID-19 vaccine.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines at the VA, including where they will offer vaccines, vaccine safety, how you will be contacted, and more.

Common Questions

Yes, your AAFMAA policy will cover a death related to COVID-19 if you are an existing AAFMAA Member with a policy issued more than two years ago or prior to a COVID-19 diagnosis, even within the first two years the policy is owned. The only exclusion on AAFMAA policies is death by suicide within the first two years.

However it is important to note that death claims made against an underwritten policy issued within the last two years are contestable, regardless of the cause of death. Contestable death claims are reviewed and subject to denial if we find undisclosed material information that would have changed the outcome of the policy issuance decision.

Yes, if you are applying for a policy that requires medical underwriting, you must disclose a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Not doing so would be considered material misrepresentation and could result in your policy being voided.

As mentioned above, death claims made against an underwritten policy issued within the last two years are contestable, regardless of the cause of death. Additionally, you don’t have to die for a material misrepresentation to void your contract. The policy can be voided at any point within the first two years if AAFMAA finds that you provided incorrect information about your health history and that the correct information would have prevented us from issuing the policy.

If you were diagnosed with having contracted COVID-19 prior to applying for life insurance and you failed to disclose that diagnosis on your application, your death claim could be denied. This is because, if you had disclosed your COVID-19 diagnosis, we would have followed current industry guidelines and possibly postponed acceptance of your application. In this case, your policy would be voided and your survivors would only receive a refund of the premiums you had paid.

No, the COVID-19 vaccine is classified as a typical wellness check, for which we do not require disclosures and do not deny death claims. We strongly suggest that our Members follow CDC recommendations and receive the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are eligible.

Industry guidelines indicate that a COVID-19 diagnosis may postpone acceptance of your application for a period of three weeks to 1 year following recovery, depending on the severity of symptoms and treatment. This timeline is subject to change as new information becomes available and industry guidelines are adjusted accordingly. Those who experience a full recovery may be considered for issue before 12 months, while serious cases (such as those which required a ventilator) may be postponed for longer.

No. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination will not affect the acceptance of your application.

No, AAFMAA cannot change your premiums or your health classification on a policy you currently hold. Your premiums and health classification will remain the same, even if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or you are at a higher risk of exposure due to your job, living situation, or recent travel, or if you get one of the COVID-19 vaccinations approved for emergency use by the USFDA.