Obtaining Medical Insurance
Post-service healthcare is a frequent source of frustration for community members. We're here to help. It's important to understand your options and the Peace Corps' role in your post-service health-care benefits.
AfterCorps for RPCVs (three months): Private health insurance is available to RPCVs immediately upon close of service, serving as a bridge to conventional health insurance.
- Colleges and Universities: RPCVs returning to school after service often enroll in healthcare plans provided by their colleges or universities.
- Obamacare: Insurance through the Affordable Care Act is a good long-term option for RPCVs who don't receive health insurance through parents or other providers.
- Employers: Many (though by no means all) employers provide basic health insurance for eligible employees. Working is a great way to stay covered.
Getting Help for Persistent Service-Related Conditions
Many volunteers return home with medical problems, ranging from short-term, treatable illnesses to, in a small number of cases, long-term permanent disabilities. Addressing these problems can be emotionally, physically, and financially taxing for those afflicated.
The Peace Corps will process requests for medical and dental evaluations for conditions arising during service. However, in most cases, Peace Corps is not currently authorized to provide direct treatment or direct disabililty benefits for RPCVs sidelined by their conditions. Instead, RPCVs are referred to the U.S. Department of Labor, which is authorized to process RPCV workers' compensation benefits under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA). If you have such a persistent service-related condition, it is very important that you document your symptoms and seek appropriate evaluations, treatment and, if necessary, compensation.
- Medical and Dental Evaluations — After service, you will need authorization for evaluation of medical and dental conditions resulting from Peace Corps service. The authorization form, PC-127C, must be used within 180 days of the date you closed service to be valid for claims purposes.
- FECA — Returned Volunteers who sustained an injury or illness during service and require ongoing medical treatment may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) administered by the Department of Labor. The Peace Corps Post-Service Unit can assist you in filing a claim.
Support and Advice from Fellow RPCVs
Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers (HJPCV) is a NPCA affiliate group ensuring that Peace Corps Volunteers, sick or injured by their service overseas, obtain the support and benefits to which they are entitled by law. HJPCV does this through individual support and advocacy and by proposing and encouraging policy change. HJPCV offers an opportunity for sick or injured RPCVs to connect with others going through difficult times who might otherwise feel ashamed for getting ill and frustrated by the bureaucracy.
According to HJPCV, Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports (1991, 2012) indicate that approximately 10-30% of all Volunteers develop some sort of health issue and our 2013 survey of nearly 8,000 Volunteers supports this evidence. Given that more than 220,000 Volunteers have served, these numbers are significant. HJPCV and its predecessor organizations have personally served hundreds of Volunteers. HJPCV needs congressional support and/or policy change to ensure that sick and injured Volunteers get prompt and enduring medical care, both in the field and upon their return — for as long as needed — and to be ensured adequate disability income when necessary.
HJPCV hears from members of the Peace Corps community, citing many difficulties they have faced over many years with the Peace Corps, the U.S. Department of Labor and others in getting the support and services they deserve for Peace Corps-related health challenges. Follow this link for HJPCV’s ten key concerns.
Feel alone? Don't. HJPCV has collected testimonies from members of the community, sharing their health care struggles.
In 2015, the Peace Corps established an internal Post-Service Healthcare Task Force to consider various recommendations to improve health care for RPCVs dealing with illness and injuries stemming from their service. Read this report from the Task Force and the most recent newsletter from the Post -Service Health Unit.
In its task force report, the Peace Corps acknowledged that many RPCVs "express anger and frustration that after their Peace Corps service they are required to work with the Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), and its staff who do not fully understand the terms of their service and the types of injuries and illnesses they typically encounter in developing nations. They sometimes suffer the humiliation of having to endlessly repeat their medical histories."