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
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.
The Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990)
Text “TalkWithUs” to 66746
- Crisis counseling for people in emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster
- Information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families
- Tips for healthy coping
- Referrals to local crisis call centers for additional follow-up care and support
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or TTY 1.800.787.3224 | www.thehotline.org
The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with advocates available in more than 200 languages. Call are free and confidential. The website has a chat now option.
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Hotline
1.800.656.HOPE (4673) | www.rainn.org
The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it is free and confidential. The website offers a live chat option.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1.800.273.8255 or TTY 1.800.799.4889 | suicidepreventionlifeline.org
The lifeline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is free and confidential. The website offers a live chat option.
Legal and Shelter Resources
WomensLaw.org, a project of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, has a national database for resources in each state. This includes contact information for advocates in domestic violence programs and shelters, legal assistance organizations, courthouse locations to file a protection order, and sheriff departments.
Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center
503-203-1444 or 883-SAFE-833 International Toll Free | https://pathwaystosafety.org/
The center serves abused Americans, mostly women and children, in both civilian and military populations overseas. In addition to providing domestic violence advocacy, safety planning and case management, the center assists victims with relocation, emergency funds for housing and childcare, and funds for payment of legal fees.
Get Help from your Members of Congress with Federal Agencies
If you have been struggling in your search for assistance from federal agencies and exhausted other means, your members of Congress may be able to assist you.
Steps and Suggestions on Contacting your Members of Congress:
- Don’t make a duplicative request to all three of your congressional representatives. Research your representatives and consider which one may be most helpful for your current situation.
- As you consider which elected official to reach out to, look and see if they are on any pertinent committees such as the Health and Labor Committee or the International Affairs Committee.
Finding your Members of Congress:
- Find your U.S. senator’s contact information here. You can sort by state of residence.
- Find your U.S. representative’s contact information here. You can input your zip code into the FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE tab located in the top right corner.
- Once you know your members of Congress, search their website to try and find pertinent information such as committee membership.
Go to your Members of Congress Website
- The Member’s contact information (email, phone numbers, and office locations) are listed on their website under the contact page.
- If you are seeking an in-person meeting, contact the district offices as constituent services are primarily concentrated there.
- District offices are more open to the public and amenable to scheduling in-person meetings quickly.
To Submit an Online Form, follow these Instructions:
- Each official’s website is different and will require some exploring to find the tabs typically titled “Help with a Federal Agency” or “Casework Request” that may be found under the “Services” section.
- Once you are on the correct page, you will have to submit your home address to verify that you are a constituent in their district.
- Once verified, you will be able to fill out a form that asks for more personal information (name, phone, and email) as well as information about your request and which Federal Agency you are seeking assistance from.
- Submit copies of all supporting documents.
Other Helpful Tips
- Keep it as succinct as possible. The staff members need to hear what is going on but not get overloaded with information.
- Concentrate on the key issue you are facing. What is not working and what is it you need from your members?
- If you are unsure how your members can help you, start with explaining the key issue and how you have not been able to receive services you need from the Federal Agency in question.