Insurance

Benjamin KrauseThe Department of Veterans Affairs now pays for health insurance for certain veterans but the majority of eligible veterans have no idea.

When asked, two-thirds of veterans who are eligible for coverage within Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment had no idea. A survey I ran yesterday showed 67 percent of veterans who answered were totally unaware of the option.

One veteran even wrote in that he asked about it but his counselor flatly told him no, “My schools requires it, but was told it won’t be covered since I can get care at the VA. I’m 35-40 miles from the nearest hospital (also a large city and major traffic).”

So how can it be that insurance coverage is held secret?

SOME VOC REHAB BACKGROUND

Since 2012, Voc Rehab has started paying insurance premiums for certain veterans in the rehabilitation program. Veteran attending universities that require health insurance for all students are entitled to payment of that private health insurance while in the program.

The policy shift came following a meeting I had with former Director Ruth Fanning where she agreed it was the right thing to do. She agreed to include required insurance a cost of attendance to help veteran avoid committing forced fraud and to do the right thing.

Previous to this point, Voc Rehab told veterans to implicitly commit fraud without us realizing what we were doing.

You see, many universities require students to purchase insurance while attending. This was a “cost of attendance” for all students. Most universities that required health insurance would waive that requirement for all students who had health insurance from a third party.

UNIVERSITY INSURANCE IS GOOD

And the policy made sense.

Being unable to pay for emergency or unplanned health care in the middle of a semester would negatively impact one’s ability to study and do well. Those pinched without health insurance would tend to get greatly stressed with negative impacts on credit scores.

VOC REHAB FRAUD

Here is the fraud that VA forced and encouraged unsuspecting and vulnerable disabled adults to engage in on a regular basis.

To evade required costs of attendance, Voc Rehab told veterans to implicitly commit fraud. Most of us, including me, did not realize how this fraud was played out and it took my second year of law school for me to figure it out.

Voc Rehab officials told veterans to tell universities that VA health care at the local VA medical center was the same as health insurance. Those counselors told us to sign a waiver that we had “insurance” and to write our Social Security Numbers (SSN) where the waiver required applicants to write their insurance number.

DIRECTOR RUTH FANNING

Director Fanning had the stones to do the right thing on the spot once I called out the fraud in 2012 during a meeting in her office. Like on-campus parking, she reasoned health insurance should likewise be paid.

And like that, Voc Rehab extended veterans benefits an additional $30 million per year for all veterans entitled to Voc Rehab and potentially entitled to health insurance coverage.

RELATED: Voc Rehab Policy To Pay Insurance

The turnaround did not come without a little fight.

At the moment, I was working with Veterans For Common Sense (VCS). The nonprofit was actively engaged in a lawsuit against VA for screwing PTSD veterans in the 9th Circuit in California.

This meant they knew who the organization was and who I was as a result. Of course, this was not the first time I had a run in with them either.

In 2009, I helped CBS Evening News with Katie Couric investigate Voc Rehab. During that investigation, Voc Rehab rubber-stamped paying for my law school when CBS caught the program violating its policies while denying my benefits.

Win-win, right?

After the decision, Voc Rehab tried to retract the move by claiming its internal policies were already clear enough for counselors to know it was a legit change.

This was not true, though, and my own Voc Rehab office in St. Paul called out the policy change as not being legit. So, I called them out on my website by posting copies of the emails for any veteran to read and the public.

RELATED: Emails From Voc Rehab On Insurance

After the calling out, Voc Rehab did finally change the policy and included the change in its M28R policy manual.

Sadly, many veterans are still being misled by fraudulent policy claims by dimwitted counselors who claim the policy was not enshrined in its own manual. (search for “insurance” within the M28R manual PDF download)

DOWNLOAD: Voc Rehab M28R Manual

Idiots.

But that is life, we have to always be vigilant and assume the machine (Veterans Affairs) needs verification with every assertion its personnel tend to engage in.

Keep on those folks.

That is the story on health insurance. It seemed like a good idea to write about this since many veterans in the program are totally unaware that Voc Rehab needs to pay for health insurance when it is required by their university.

There is a double benefit to this move that VA may not want you to know.

By having insurance, you can access non-VA doctors who can help you document your disabilities from military service. It is a genius way to help push through the bureaucratic BS and actually get it done the right way.

Food for thought for those who do not realize outside health care is a good thing.

13 COMMENTS

  1. “Yes”, we have to be vigilant!

    “Yes”, we have to call out VA employees who “THINK they know it all!”

    The problem I’m seeing is VA employees; ie; directors, physicians, physicians assistants, nurses, councilors etc. etc. don’t believe anything, or want to believe anything, veterans say! Even when the vet brings in documents they snub us! They say and do whatever they want. Even if it’s breaking federal mandated laws! Thereby causing vets to have “high anxieties!” (There, I said that nicely)!

    Welcome to that proverbial “brick wall!”

    What can we do when that “brick wall” is right before us? VA employees (from top to bottom) are, IMHO, trained, or threatened, to keep veterans held hostage, or at their mercy.
    No matter who we speak with, the answers are always the same. The VA, from top to bottom, doesn’t care. They’ve proven that by LYING! Most VSO’s don’t care. The “House and Senate” doesn’t care! The “Committees” definitely don’t care! Or else, they’d all be holding VA accountable on a myriad of federal charges!

    The times we have spent with any of these “entities”, have we seen any real improvements within VA? If that answer is “YES”! Then why are there so many negative articles coming out almost DAILY, accross this nation, against VA?
    When the “current Obama administration” in Washington REFUSES to hold VA to that “Higher Standard”, which was promised, do we really see a “change”!

    I’m questioning, or ‘calling out’, all our elected and appointed officials to do their jobs! Get out of that “little cubical”, acting like “telemarketer’s raising $18,000/day” when your supposed to be working for “We the People”, and back on your respected “floors” and stop the “gridlock” NOW!

    Rant out for this morning!

  2. When I was attending additional University Studies I was my Student Gov’t. President for -3- yrs. and my on-campus Federal Work-Study Job was doing Student Advising within my College within the Arts & Sciences College. With this position as an older student and Veteran I saw the myriad od problems students that were Veterans had to traverse and it was a nightmare.
    1) The Veteran Students were almost *always* having to deal with the inherent anxieties of whether the VA and their Veteran Liaison actually processed the paperwork timely to ensure their classes and registration was not cancelled, which classes and registration were cancelled OFTEN because of the VA and Veteran Liaison sometimes being as much as a 1/2 semester LATE in payment…and the college would be as patient and lenient as they could but it came down to deadlines written in stone and the VA quite often failed students.
    2) The University Health Insurance **and** Parking Permits **had** to be paid at the very start of Classes, no exceptions. NO **partial payments**…I say this because here’s the nexus to Ben’s article today in that I saw time and again where Veterans did not even have means to qualify for the VA Health Care (this was prior to 2012), which meant that again, if that University Health Insurance was NOT paid for the ENTIRE Semester with all that Semester’s per credit, registration, et al, again, classes would be canceled.
    The University I went to had a modest Health Clinic and more times than not a given Student would be referred to go to that City’s Free Clinic, since the head Physician at the Univ. Health Svc. also heavily volunteered her time there. There was *MUCH* that was NOT covered by that Univ. Health Plan, and then there was the Univ. Student Counseling Center where they had -1- Psychologist and -1- Psychiatrist part time on staff…where a Vet could start their journey of civilian/private/ Independent Medical Opinions in starting to compile one’s claim, as Ben mentioned, it IS a pathway to private health to have supporting documentation that **supports** a given Vet’s Active Duty Service-Connected Health Conditions. (only a Vet can prove and provide this info for the VA in a formal Claim for Disability Compensation with a Vet’s record-keeping, saving of pertinent doc’s.)
    3) Another thing- as a Student Advisor, I could NOT help fellow Veterans!!! Veterans **HAD** to solely use their Veteran Liaison Advisor, whom was just about as available as ANY VA Patient Advocate and just an unhelpful while Veterans were always biting nails never knowing if things were done correctly, and even then there were a few fringe cases where the Veteran Liaison had been reassigned or even quit or fired or retired, but yet NOBODY put into place for a timely transition so VETS would not get screwed!

    The system is screwed because the VA simply operates on their OWN time and RULES, never mind if the VA is ordered to do the right thing because each and every VA Office seems to interpret any rules the way in which THEY see it…totally FUBAR by the VA’s stance. As long as that Veteran Liaison continues to receive their paycheck all is well, never mind the Vets they are there to supposedly serve.

    Sorry so long but my unique view of this world on a University Campus showed me just how screwed-up things are for Vets. SO screwed-up that MANY Vets just went with Federal Financial Aid, Grants, applied for Scholarships, before ever attempting to use whatever “flavor or G.I. Bill” they received because it was always way more excessive stress that NO college student needs let alone a Vet with PTSD or whatever else may be going on. This article touched a sensitive part of my brain this morning because of what I witnessed and again, this was all right up to 9/11 and 2 yrs. afterward and only assumed that post-2012 things changed for better for veterans attending college but apparently not.

    • I wanted to note that the decade of active duty USAF I was under something called “V.E.A.P.” (Veteran Educational Assistance Program), as it was one of the newer varieties of G.I. Bill post Vietnam.
      I could not USE VEAP because the fucking program would not recognize the Master’s Requirement nor even give and credence to the professional field of ‘Art Therapy’, while ‘Music Therapy’ often would be, with both requiring B.A. with a double Majorin Psych and Applied and Studio Arts/History or Music if that direction.

      So because VEAP would not fund me for what I actually contributed towards for my benefit so I could utilize my extensive studio art as well as now studio music coupled with degree in Psych to help fellow PTSD vets.
      I also should note this was right at the precipice of my starting to have entire health crap hit me like a box of tacks in a wind tunnel, so I had yet to make any such claim process with VA or SS.
      So, I relied on Federal Student Loans, Grants, and I received a few scholarships, instead of my very educational benefits not utilized simply because some ass decided Art or Music Therapy was not good…like now Therapy Service Animals are apparently considered by the clowns at VA Circus, and Bros.

      However, rather than bemoan my circumstance, when I received my 100% Svc. Connected Disability P&T, it was brought to my attention ONLY by the other great website called hadit dot com, where I learned at that time frame when ACS and Dept. of Ed. handled my consolidated student loans of $46,000+ (4 of a 5 yr degree never completed), the VA nor any VSO’s ever volunteer this info, but if ONLY if you are 100% Service Connected P&T can you file a specific form with VA as I did, and have your Dept. of Ed. Student Loans absolved by the VA…:) Cool beans, but sad the VA does not make this available.
      It’s also important to have any student loans Consolidated as I had done when I needed to put them into ‘delay mode’ due to what was going in my or any Vet’s life, as it makes things more ‘tidy’ for this to be as less painful in dealing with Faxing the VA and whomever services your loans.
      I did all this right before the recent ACS/Xerox move to France, I believe, and imagine they left a student loan messy train wreck behind.
      Anyway, wanted to add some pertinent info if any Vets had no knowledge of what I learned back then from hadit dot com….that and this site and by far the best in my book for vast repository of knowledge, experience, and repository of direct oinks to forms, and all Title 38 and precedent cases, and additions to make a successful case, providing you have that all important nexus to prove Service Connection. 🙂

      Rant out…sorry so long.

      @crazyelf…finally saw video/audio of what you have been talking about with the unfinished work of Kennedy to Trump comparison. Thanks.

      • @namnibor
        That “…unfinished work, (recording) of JFK…” was, in my opinion, one of the main reasons he was assassinated.
        Although the article references it toward Trump. I believe that one could infer, since Trump is now leading in Indiana AND California handsomely, there needs to be a ‘shakeup’! Not only in our government agencies and civilian corporations, but also in the news medias. Until “TRUTHS” are being told, or become the norm, our country will remain on “life support!”

        Today, I received an email from one of my “conservative news sources!”
        The article was about what Obama’s administration ~might do~ IF Mr. Trump wins in November. He, Obama, might raise the “interest rates” amoung many other negative objectives. Which would/could cause a disastrous economic collapse, possibly worldwide! In essence, a “Depression” worse than the one which occured in 1929! This one, on the other hand, would last for two or more decades.
        I know this is “doom-saying”. Yet, we all know Obama’s administration “HAS NOT BEEN TRUTHFUL” with the American people on anything;
        ie: “secret societies” established within our government agencies!
        False immigration influx %’s! False unemployment %’s! The explosion of a $19.1+ TRILLION debt. Averaging $1 Trillion/year during this administration!
        Foreign Policies which are dangerous to our national security!
        Internal Policies which attack our Constitution and Bill of Rights!
        Refugee resettlements, which more states are fighting against!
        Multiple attacks nationally on Christianity (which our country was founded upon)! etc., etc., etc.!

        I wish more of y’all would google that article. Thanks namnibor!

  3. Benjamin- Nice Bad VA Art today. Would that image imply “Insurance beneath the pigskin deep of the VA’s hide?” 🙂 (that’s what I gleaned from it)

  4. Ben, After i found out that the VA OIG were investigating me. I began to collect SS and i went out to get private healthcare through United Health (private as in non-VA). Every visit to a private primary-care physician or specialist included a series of questions aimed specifically at my VA diagnosed and compensated ailments. Every medical appointment outside of the VA has been prompted by the VA and it’s contractors to assess my condition. Upon leaving i would always find them outside in the halls or going to their cars.
    I am not of the mind that i am the only veteran that is being assessed in this fashion. I would tell all veterans that not every doctor outside of the VA is there just for you. Just as i would say that every word you say in a phone conversation to a VA telephone operator, nurse or doctor is noted. Remember the Patient Advocate that you complain to, be it public, private healthcare or VA is an employee of that facility.

    • I would have to agree. In a smaller community, you might not find a doctor willing to contradict the VA, particularly if that doctor might be looking for an easy job at the VA at some point in the future.
      Or a doctor that would like those Choice referrals and money to keep coming in.

    • my “spidy-sense” has picked up on this before, no doubt to it at all. some ppl I’ve met that do business with VA and also some private doctor’s offices I’ve been a patient at, i would toss HIPPA at them. though “spidy-sense” will not work in legal courts, one must have proof. but, only one way those ppl could have asked me the questions they did, in their nonchalant disarming manor trying to act like a friend, and that is someone at VA is leaking patient info to them.

      along with the @OP note, how many veterans here and elsewhere have had doctor’s tell you “why they worked/interned at VA” and acted like it was a badge of honor and insinuated too, “so why do you the veteran have issues with VA, when I worked there it was grand”. yeah right. these so called current VA issues have been going on for decades, its just the Internet and digital media have made the info more accessible and instantaneous and thus difficult for damage control to sweep these issues under the carpet. when i hear that, my mental trust level with them does the automatic drop. can’t help it, and i know i might not be justified in my thinking, but past experiences often times trump cognitive behavior modification.

      i mention about those local doctor’s and their conversational statements that they interned at VA in order to put on the mental dot-board that in my humble opinion ,no matter what city you live in, i suspect these doctors will take up for the doctors at VA more than the veteran. not all, because many of us have had the good luck to find a private doctor that helped the veteran and contradicted what the VA had pushed onto the veteran. I just think I would be a fool to assume some of these doctors don’t talk about patients among themselves about veterans, directly or indirectly. with the VA nefarious red-flag options available to put on veteran medical files and “VA spy’s” in offices as the @OP and others have mentioned, we veterans have to watch each others backs more than ever.

      the @OP mentioned UnitedHealthCare, these national databases between fed medicare and fed VA and insurance companies and drug databases and MMJ driver’s licenses, etc., the lines/firewalls that separate them are becoming blurred and porous. and many veterans that make use of the VA have found out the hard way how that type of data can and will be used negatively against a veteran.

  5. somewhat off the “Insurance” topic but relative to this blog site ]

    PVA article, remove the spaces -> http :// bit . ly / 1SKhMU9

    For those veterans here &/or care givers with spinal cord injury or disease, bills S.2883 and H.R.5091 appear in order. Though I write that keeping in mind my limited comprehension skills.

    These bills are being strongly supported by PVA to “…ensure that VA can be held accountable for its mandated responsibility to care for those veterans with the most severe disabilities.”

    What caught my attention is the wording via the PVA website, “held accountable” & “mandated responsibility”.

    Most veterans on this blog and many other veteran blogs might wonder why PVA and other VSO’s haven’t shown prior “strong support” for holding the VA accountable, or virtually very little accountability. I know I wonder. I wondered so much about it that I quit making use of these VSO’s. Actually, they forced my hand regarding claims by ignoring medical evidence and siding with VA propaganda that hiring an attorney was the result if I wanted to continue fighting for my claims. I might add, the legal reps I contacted that had ANY connected dots with these VSO’s (past or present) wouldn’t take my claims case(s). Only the one that didn’t have any connection took the cases and won…on historical & current documented medical evidence no less. What that says is these were strong cases to begin with or the attorney wouldn’t have taken them and also begs the question why didn’t any of these VSO’s see that.

    So how can a veteran expect these VSO’s to hold VA to their “mandated responsibility” when they themselves do not hold their own organizations to such? Like veterans across the country wondering just how much accountability will the PVA and other VSO’s really hold to VA? Surely don’t rely on Congress!

    As a veteran with a “spinal cord injury or disease”, I applaud anyone and that includes PVA to fight the the good fight for us. But there are other veterans with other needs too that need that good fight to hold the VA, and yes, the VSO’s accountable & their “mandated responsibility” held in check.

    Ironic is that if these bills do pass, how likely is it that anyone in Congress will actually hold anyone at VA accountable? I think I just gave a misnomer or something like that? 😉

    Not unlike this article about VocRehab/CH31 and Insurance stating what VA & some VSO’s (i added VSO’s to this narrative) don’t want the veteran community to know about and that is outside health care IS a good thing. I’d still be believing the BS propaganda the VA and PVA were spewing my way regarding my spinal injury/disease had it not been for outside health care…oh and good legal representation too.

    @Ben & all here, keep up the good fight — that’s why some of us veterans have been able to see the light and move forward.

  6. My chap 31 counselor has always paid the University insurance. However, there are deductibles. AM i able to get a reimbursement for these deductibles and co-pays? If anyone knows please provide me the reg which states this to be the case….thank you.

  7. The “BUBBLE” may occur again this year!
    I said in one of my comments today, what Obama might do IF Trump wins in November.

    If the “prime rate”, (or interest rates), climbs above a specific number. It burst in 2007 with a 8% rise. Then continued to rise to 11+ %! Due to the housing market. Which occured under what President – ? If you say, Bush, you’ld be wrong. It was all due to his predecessor – Bill (and Hillary) Clinton.
    It took time for it to build up pressure. Under the Clintons, banks were allowing anyone to purchase a home, remember? People didn’t understand how it, the market, worked. In reality, average everday hard working people making slighly at, or above, minimum wage, could not afford homes in upper middle class neighborhoods. Yet, many banks were giving them 30 flexable, not fixed, mortgage rates. If the interest rates rose, so would the mortgage “prime” rate and monthly payments! Some could see a 200% rise in their monthly payments!

    The best way to explain how it happened is for y’all to watch the following “true movie” –
    “The Big Short”
    Quote,
    “Before the housing and credit bubble of 2007 triggers an international economic meltdown, a handful of financial outsiders sees the crash coming and bets against the big banks in a daring play that could reap them huge profits.”

    Example:
    1.) One small group invested and their “…profit was $80 MILLION!”
    2.) Another one netted over 480 times a $1.4 BILLION investment.
    3.) Only one single banker went to jail on fraud.
    4.) The taxpayer’s bailed out most banks in late 2008.
    5.) These banks, although MILLIONS of people lost BILLIONS in homes, jobs, 401K’s, etc., etc., were to pay the government only a small fraction, (in fines), in 2016!
    Lastly, the banks got away with fraud!

    • I have always had free health care VA since 1973. They sent me to voc rehab
      2013 but i am beyond that state with agent orange. I am waiting on unemployability claim due today may 4 2016…

      WE WILL SEE TODAY

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