In 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs realized veterans probably didn’t understand their health care benefits. I can’t believe I said “probably.” Being a veteran, and having discussed benefits with hundreds of veterans, without a doubt, the VA’s medical benefit package is clearly confusing, difficult to navigate, and open to different interpretations resulting in completely different benefits from one facility to another. In fact, even a the same facility, when a veteran asks one employee about a benefit, then asks a different employee the same questions, the answers can be far from similar.
To help veterans understand their individual benefits, the VA decided to complete benefit handbooks that are practically customized to each individual veteran. The following is a brief sent out on this issue by the VA:
VA Launching New Personalized Veterans Health Benefits Handbook
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is piloting new, personalized Veterans Health Benefits Handbooks. The handbooks are tailored to provide enrolled Veterans with the most relevant health benefits information based on their own specific eligibility. In essence, each handbook will be written for the individual Veteran.
“These handbooks will give Veterans everything they need to know and leave out everything that doesn’t apply to them,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Our Veterans will now have a comprehensive, easy to understand roadmap to the medical benefits they earned with their service.”
In addition to highlighting each Veteran’s specific health benefits, the handbook also provides contact information for the Veteran’s preferred local facility, ways to schedule personal appointments, guidelines for communicating treatment needs and an explanation of the Veteran’s responsibilities, such as copayments when applicable.
“Enhancing access isn’t just about expanding the kinds of services VA provides. It also includes making sure we do everything we can to ensure Veterans have a clear understanding of the benefits available to them so they can make full use of the services they have earned,” Shinseki said.
The new handbooks will initially be available only to certain Veterans in Cleveland and Washington, D.C., areas. Following the pilot phase, full implementation is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2011 for across the county.
For additional information, go to http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility or call VA’s toll-free number at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).