The American Legion’s Jacob B. Gadd, deputy director for Healthcare, recently attended a VHA Chief Business Office Member Services Enrollment Outreach Council Meeting. VA has implemented a number of outreach initiatives to help veterans enroll for health care:
- Online 1010EZ application. VA has added the 1010 EZ application on VA’s home page. VA eliminated the signature requirement for the online 1010 EZ in August 2010, which has resulted in more electronic enrollments. Additionally, VA added an online feature in January to answer eligibility and enrollment questions.
- Publication and website enhancements. VA is redesigning the health benefits website and rolling out personalized health-care benefits handbooks for veterans enrolled in VA this year.
- Advertising. VA utilizes a number of outreach vehicles to promote health-care enrollment, such as online advertising, banner and text ad on other websites, e-mail and ads for online circulation, and print ads in newspapers, publications and through the assistance of veteran service organizations.
- Direct Mail. In June 2010, VA sent 194,072 letters to eligible Priority Group 8 veterans after the VA regulations were relaxed to allow 10 percent higher means test veterans to enroll. In July 2010, VA launched a direct mail campaign in Detroit, Michigan and Florida to veterans that had not applied for health care but were Priority Group 8 eligible. In January, VA also sent 74,610 letters to combat veterans, alerting them that their five years of free health care was expiring and to encourage them to enroll. VA is planning to send enrollment letters to veterans with exposure to Agent Orange, former prisoners of war and Purple Heart recipients. VA is also targeting veterans in the Veterans Benefit Administration and it was recommended during the meeting that letters be sent to veterans in colleges and universities using the GI Bill to encourage student veterans to enroll. Other future direct mail plans include: combat veterans, female veterans focus, focus groups with combat veterans to obtain feedback on VA’s advertising efforts as well as working with Veteran Service Organizations.
To receive health care, veterans generally must be enrolled. Veterans do not have to be enrolled if they have a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more, or need care for a compensable disability. A veteran may apply for enrollment at any VA health-care facility or veterans benefits office at any time. There is no time limit. A form, “Application for Health Benefits,” VA Form 10-10EZ, must be completed and can be submitted in person or by mail. Veterans must ensure the printed application form is signed; otherwise, it cannot be processed for enrollment. Application forms can be obtained by visiting, calling or writing any VA health-care facility or veterans’ benefits office, or by calling, toll-free, (877) 222-8387.
For a new VA patient, not already enrolled, the application for enrollment will be generated automatically as part of the patient registration process at the first visit to a VA health-care facility. After the veteran has enrolled, VA will send a letter from the VA Health Eligibility Center notifying the veteran of his/her priority group. However, this letter is not necessary to initially receive treatment. Check with the local VA health-care facility if there is uncertainty about a veteran’s enrollment status.
Once enrolled, most veterans will remain enrolled without further action on their part. However, certain veterans are required to provide income information to determine their Priority level. These veterans will be asked to update their personal information at their VA medical center on an annual basis. Failure to update this information could adversely affect a veteran’s enrollment status.
The American Legion is committed to assisting VA in helping veterans enroll for VA health care. Currently, American Legion National Headquarters staff are working together on a Veterans Health Benefit Center on The American Legion’s website. Information such as enrollment will be one of the items in the center to provide additional assistance. For enrollment questions or concerns, please contact the VA&R Division at (202)861-2700 or via e-mail.