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To receive VA health care benefits most veterans must enroll. Veterans can apply for enrollment at any VA health care facility or veterans' benefits office. An official notification regarding the veteran's priority will be mailed to the veteran after VA verifies enrollment information and processes the application.

Some veterans are exempted from having to enroll, although all veterans are encouraged to enroll to help VA plan its health care needs and provide better preventive and primary services. Veterans who do not have to enroll include: veterans with a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more, veterans who were discharged from the military within one year but have not yet been rated for a VA disability benefit, and veterans seeking care for only a service-connected disability.

Priority Groups
More than six million veterans are enrolled in the VA health care system as of October 2001. When they enroll, they are placed in priority groups, or categories, to help VA manage health care services within budgetary constraints and to provide quality care to those enrolled. There are seven enrollment priorities of veterans, with Priority 1 being the highest. Priority 7 veterans are those who have no service-connected disabilities or have a disability that is officially rated as "noncompensable zero percent service-connected," and whose income and assets are above the established thresholds. Priority 7 veterans must agree to make co-payments for most medical care and medicines.