Every day, thousands of VA employees are working on things to make life easier for Veterans.
Good news does not always make the front page but here’s an impressive project just completed that will affect a lot of Veterans in a small but significant way every month.
Millions of Veterans receive health care services from VA Medical Centers each year. Veterans with a cost-sharing responsibility receive a patient billing statement.
VA received thousands of calls each month from Veterans and their families with questions about their statements. The high number of calls indicated the statement format was often confusing to customers.
So, the Veterans Health Administration’s Chief Business Office organized a workgroup to create a more patient-friendly statement that is easier to read and understand. Input from Veterans was used to develop improvements to the statement design.
The improved statement has a concise and easy-to-understand layout and several new features that address issues identified by Veterans.
The number one question Veterans had about the old statement was: “Where is my account number?” The account number is more prominently located on the new statement.
The new statement also provides a simple summary of charges, payments received, and balance owed. The location of the account summary was moved from the bottom of the statement to the top.
Veterans said they would like easy to find descriptions of the services they received. Now, services received, such as visits and prescriptions, are clearly listed on the statement.
The new statement also provides a clear explanation of payment options and balance due date.
Veterans began receiving the redesigned patient statements in March 2013, along with an insert that provides an overview of the new, patient-friendly design.
Whoever was involved deserves a definite ‘Way to go!’
According to Philip Matkovsky, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Administrative Operations, “It may seem like a ‘little thing,’ but we generate somewhere over 16 million of these statements per year.”
How is the new statement being received? Here is just one of dozens of compliments received (and this from a Veteran’s wife who is a retired nurse): “Whoever was involved in redesigning the statement needs to know that the bill is now very understandable. They could hold a seminar for some insurance companies on how a billing statement should read. The pamphlet enclosed is very informative on how to read the new statement and whoever was involved deserves a definite ‘Way to go!’”
And says Rich Tremaine, Associate Director of the VA Central Western Massachusetts Health Care System, who is sometimes called on to explain the billing: “I just want to say as a Veteran, and an employee, thank you and your team for an outstanding product. This will make a huge difference in our Veterans’ ability to understand their VA bill.”