Legislation passed in 2014 allowed military veterans with access to physicians outside Veteran Administration (VA) facilities, including community based family practitioners. Family physicians who participate in Medicare are eligible to sign agreements with the VA to provide care for veterans. Physician billing companies help these providers align their medical coding with Medicare’s billing guidelines, and submit correct and accurate claims for proper reimbursement.
According to an article published in The Huffington Post in December 2016, while two-thirds of veterans are eligible for VA health care, only one-third are enrolled. As veterans are now combining private healthcare with the VA to meet their needs, there is an increasing need for non-VA options. The article discusses the importance of veteran-centric decisions as highlighted in a recent survey, Veterans: a Significant Force in the New Health Economy. Here’s what physicians need to know about veteran health care in 2017:
- One in 3 males among elderly Americans are veterans. About 63% of veterans say that their chronic illness or illnesses was caused by their military service. With the rise in the costs of healthcare, most of them are turning back to the VA for care.
- The incidence of chronic diseases is higher among the veteran population than among the general population. Conditions like diabetes and headaches are more common among veterans than non-veterans.
- Knowing the specific medical conditions that affect veterans makes it possible to provide them with information on the best healthcare options for their needs.
- “Hybrids” of VA and non-VA healthcare will grow as veterans are better educated on their options. They will increasingly take advantage of their VA options as the cost of healthcare grows, but will not give up their non-VA care. A recent Daily Record report says that experts favor a model where the VA would provide care that it specializes in, such as PTSD, traumatic brain injury and loss of limbs and consider discontinuing service such as obstetrics and gynecology which the private sector might better provide.
- Different options for care and new technology influence the veteran patient’s journey and this will form the basis for developing successful communications and treatment for veterans.
- It is not clear whether the Veterans Choice Program will be retained. This program allows eligible veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility.
- Family practitioners looking to provide care for veterans will have to know how to reach them. Veteran insights and military media expertise can help with this.
Last year, the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a public statement saying that physician-led, patient-centered, team-based patient care is the best approach to maintain the quality of services available to patients within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Also, as veterans are a high-risk population with considerable health needs, reducing wait times is crucial.
The Daily Record recently reported the present VA Secretary as saying, “Since the VA does not – and cannot – do everything that veterans need or want we will partner with communities and private sector to extend the reach of services available to veterans and their families.”
As physicians strive to provide high quality, personalized care to veterans when and where they need it, medical billing and coding companies will continue to help them submit accurate claims to VA with codes reflect the level of care provided and valid use of modifiers.