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The U.S. veterans residing in Colombia often encounter several difficulties and triumphs while searching for healthcare options. Accessing medical care after service can be challenging, and the Veterans Affairs (VA) is frequently their sole alternative. The challenges veterans face in accessing healthcare are often more intricate than those the general population faces. This is especially true for overseas veterans who may encounter unfamiliar healthcare systems and language barriers.

The HCA Clinic assists veterans with difficulties seeking medical care outside the United States. They provide insights into the unique experiences of veterans’ healthcare abroad and the resilience that drives their pursuit of optimal care. Learn about the realities of veterans’ healthcare overseas and how the HCA Clinic helps them achieve better health.

The Foreign Medical Program (FMP) of the VA

The Foreign Medical Program, or FMP, is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare benefits program for U.S. Veterans with VA-rated, service-connected disabilities living or traveling abroad.

All healthcare services provided in foreign countries fall under the jurisdiction of FMP. The Veterans Health Administrator (VHA) Office of Community Care in Denver, Colorado, administers the program.

The Office of Community Care is responsible for all aspects of the program, including the Veteran’s registration process, application processing, and payment of claims.

The eligibility requirements for medical services for Veterans outside the United States are different. VA may authorize foreign medical services for Veterans only for a VA-rated, service-connected disability or any disability associated with and held to be aggravating. This means that disability percentages have no bearing when determining eligibility for foreign medical services.

Authorization before obtaining FMP health care services for VA-rated, service-connected disabilities is not necessary. Veterans who have established permanent residence in a foreign country are encouraged to notify the FMP of their current address. At that time, arrangements will be made for FMP registration and the mailing of program materials.

Although Veterans may select providers of their choice, it is recommended (not required) that chosen providers produce their medical documentation and billing statements in English. Documents submitted in another language will require translation services, which may delay claims processing payment.

Generally, as long as the service is medically necessary for the treatment of a VA-rated, service-connected disability or any disability associated with and held to be aggravating, it will be covered. Services must be accepted by VA and the U.S. medical community, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Medical Association.

Veterans who are simply traveling overseas and aren’t planning on a permanent relocation may still want to notify the Office of Community Care if medical services are required for a VA-rated, service-connected disability. In addition, enrolling in FMP is simplefill out the form and send it to the VHA Office of Community Care.

HCA Clinic Present in Colombia and Panamá

After the closure of U.S. military bases in Panamá, some American veterans chose to stay or retire there. As a result, the need arose for health services specifically designed for veterans and retirees. 

The VSO office with logos from the Panama Veterans Commission and Veterans Service Officer.
The VSO office with logos from the Panama Veterans Commission and Veterans Service Officer.

HCA Clinic (by HCA International), an extension of HCA Panamá, has expanded into Colombia. HCA Clinic is a specialized group that provides health services to veterans and retirees currently residing in or visiting Colombia, Panamá, or Ecuador (opening soon). With over 20 years of medical experience, HCA Clinic has built a vast network of affiliates worldwide, which includes:

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Clinics and a network doctors

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Pharmacies with medicine delivery

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Hospital

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Physiotherapy centers

Also, the services that HCA Clinic offers are:

HCA Clinic Helps U.S. Veterans in Colombia Get Healthcare

HCA Clinic has a medical center in Sabaneta, near Medellín, and has been operational for almost five years. The clinic offers healthcare services to assist U.S. veterans residing in Colombia. The HCA office in Sabaneta was inaugurated on March 8th, 2019. Within a year, it opened a new clinic named HCA Clinic on February 1st, 2020. Over the past five years, this office has helped nearly 200 U.S. veterans and around 400 U.S. veterans in Colombia have been contacted.

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Years helping U.S. Veterans

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200 veterans assisted in Colombia

This office and the clinic help U.S. military veterans living in Colombia with healthcare services and filing benefits claims with the VA in the U.S. It also helps them with medical services for related injuries or disabilities caused by military service. HCA Clinic is the first organization in Colombia to provide health services to U.S. veterans.

HCA Clinic Medellin is located in Sabaneta.
HCA Clinic Medellin is located in Sabaneta.

HCA Clinic Medellin and the VSO Office in Sabaneta

HCA Clinic in Sabaneta is open to the public and offers a range of healthcare solutions, from routine check-ups to managing service-related injuries or disabilities.

General Medicine Clinic at HCA Clinic Sabaneta
General Medicine Clinic at HCA Clinic Sabaneta

The Veterans Services Office (VSO) is a cornerstone of support and advocacy for U.S. veterans within the HCA Clinic network. This vital office is a centralized hub, ensuring veterans receive comprehensive assistance with benefit claims, medical coordination, and overall support.

The VSO office in Sabaneta
The VSO office in Sabaneta

VSOs (Veterans Service Officers), receive training and accreditation from both the Texas Veterans Commission and the Panama Veterans Commission. Their role is to assist veterans, their dependents, and survivors in a variety of ways. This includes not only applying for federal benefits, but also providing resources related to compensation and pension, healthcare, education, and training.

Medellin Guru Guides

Download the guide Foreign Medical Program Health Care Benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with helpful data about your rights as a U.S. Veteran.

Veterans Service Officer in Colombia – Mónica Zuluaga

Mónica Zuluaga is the Veterans Service Officer in the Sabaneta office near Medellín. Veteran Service Officers guide the veterans in submitting claims to the VA for their benefits for service-related injuries or disability. In addition, they will help gather information that supports their claims and also file appeals for denied claims.

How to Get to HCA Clinic in Sabaneta

Parque Sabaneta is situated around a 10-minute walk east of the Sabaneta station. Additionally, many people walk on the streets to and from the metro station, which makes it relatively safe during the day and even after dark, but not too late.

Parque Sabaneta in Sabaneta
Parque Sabaneta, near of Medellín

Frequent and inexpensive metro buses use Civica cards and cost only 2,880 pesos. These buses run from the Sabaneta metro station to and from the park. However, they don’t drop you off at the park, but about a block away. The integrated fare, including the metro train and Sabaneta metro bus, is only 3,615 pesos.

Additionally, a taxi stand at the Sabaneta metro station usually has taxis available. Any taxi driver in Medellín will know where Parque Sabaneta is located. It’s also generally easy to catch a taxi at the park.

HCA Clinic Medellin in Pereira

In a bold stride towards expanding its commitment to U.S. Veterans, HCA has unfurled its new medical sanctuary in Pereira, strategically poised to cater to the healthcare needs of American heroes in the Coffee region.

Inside the new HCA Clinic in Pereira
Inside the new HCA Clinic in Pereira

Nestled amidst the enchanting landscapes of Pereira, this cutting-edge facility emerges as a beacon of health support for veterans residing in Pereira, Manizales, Dosquebradas, Santa Rosa de Cabal, La Virginia, Cartago, Armenia, Calarca, Circasia, La Tebaida, Montenegro, Cali, and Cartago. HCA’s mission extends beyond borders, reaching the hearts of those who’ve served and ensuring they receive medical care in the Coffee region.

HCA Clinic Pereira
HCA Clinic Pereira

Frequently Asked Questions about Healthcare for Veterans in Colombia

To apply for VA benefits, individuals can initiate the process by creating an account on the official VA website (va.gov) and completing the online application for their desired benefit program. Essential documents, such as discharge papers and medical records, should be gathered and submitted along with the application. Monitoring the application’s status through the VA.gov account, providing prompt responses to requests for additional information, and consulting with a Veterans Service Officer if needed all contribute to a smoother and more efficient application process. The VA’s comprehensive system is designed to honor veterans by facilitating access to crucial resources for post-military life.

Veterans can easily initiate the process by contacting HCA Clinic directly. The clinic’s staff is well-equipped to guide veterans through the necessary steps to access the healthcare they need.

HCA Clinic provides a wide range of services, including routine check-ups, specialized medical care, and assistance with benefits claims related to service-related injuries or disabilities.

To be eligible for VA disability benefits, a veteran typically needs a disability rating of 10% or higher. The specific benefits and compensation amount increase with the severity of the disability. A 0% rating may still indicate a service-connected condition, but it doesn’t qualify for compensation; however, it may make the veteran eligible for other benefits like healthcare.

While HCA Clinic may assist U.S. veterans with some aspects of the documentation required for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it’s crucial to note that the VA claims process involves collaboration between the veteran and the VA itself. HCA Clinic, or any other healthcare provider, can support veterans by providing relevant medical records and information about service-connected disabilities, which is valuable for the VA claims process.

Medellin Guru's Colombian Insurance and Healthcare Articles

Medellin Guru's Comprehensive Visa and Passport Series

The Colombian visa changes that went into effect in mid-October 2022 were significant. So, on the Medellin Guru site, we have a comprehensive series of visa articles that are kept up-to-date and should answer most visa questions. These articles include:

We have looked in detail at the seven most popular Colombian visas used by foreigners:

  1. Digital Nomad Visa
  2. Retirement visa
  3. Marriage visa
  4. Investment visa
  5. Resident visa
  6. Work visa
  7. Student visa
  8. Visitor visa

Also, we have looked in detail at three additional Colombian visas, which are less popular for foreigners:

In addition, we have a guide to Colombia tourist visas and how to extend a tourist visa. Also, we have a guide to renewing U.S. passports in Colombia and a guide to obtaining a Colombian passport.

Furthermore, we provide information about travel insurance that meets the insurance requirement for Colombian visas. And we have a guide to how apply for a cedula extranjeria in Colombia and a guide to using notaries in Medellín and Colombia. Finally, Medellin Guru has partnered with a visa agency to offer Colombia visa services.

All of our Colombia visa articles were updated in 2022 to ensure they are up-to-date and are being updated again in 2023 In addition, all visa articles on this website will be kept up-to-date as new details are disclosed.

The Bottom Line - Healthcare Colombia: HCA Clinic Offers Services to U.S. Veterans in Colombia

Colombia is becoming a popular choice for U.S. veterans and retirees due to its low cost of living. Medellín is among the top foreign retirement locations thanks to its many attractions. Additionally, Colombia boasts the best healthcare system in Latin America, with 24 of the best hospitals in the country. Notably, nine of these hospitals are situated in Medellín. HCA Clinic has expanded to Colombia following its success in Panama. If you’re a U.S. veteran living in Colombia, consider contacting Mónica Zuluaga.

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Editor’s note: updated on February 1, 2020, with information about the new clinic Healthcare Colombia opened in Sabaneta.

Editor’s note: updated on July 17, 2023, with updated information about the clinic Healthcare Colombia in Sabaneta and metro fares for 2023.

Editor’s note: updated on December 18, 2023, with new information about the new HCA Clinic and other details.

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