TracFone Wireless, America's largest no-contract wireless service provider, announced Monday that it will provide free data to veterans who use their phones to attend virtual medical appointments with providers from the Department of Veterans Affairs via the VA Video Connect service.
The partnership brings the number of mobile carriers giving free data to veterans who are teleconferencing with VA medical staff to four. TracFone Wireless joins T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon in waiving all data charges when veterans use their mobile phones to connect with their VA medical providers through the VA Video Connect app.
The addition of TracFone also gives veterans using government-funded phones through the SafeLink program free access to VA medical staff. SafeLink phones are available to those who receive:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (Section 8)
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefits
VA Video Connect enables veterans to videoconference with their VA providers on their smartphone, tablet or computer from any location with an internet connection.
"Our goal at VA is to provide the best health care experience for all veterans, regardless of where they live," said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. "This new partnership with TracFone increases access for veterans and ensures health care is accessible anywhere. Approximately 150,000 SafeLink customers can benefit from this application."
In fiscal 2019, the VA provided 2.6 million telehealth sessions to more than 900,000 veterans, representing a 16% increase from the previous year in the number of veterans receiving care via its telehealth services. While exact figures are not known for more recent use, the VA has greatly expanded its internet and telephone communications with veterans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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