How To Keep The VA From Attaching Your Check!

Almost anyone who served in the military during the time of an armed conflict is eligible for very low cost health care and prescriptions. (others are also eligible). It is available for some people with large assets and high incomes.
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How To Keep The VA From Attaching Your Check!

Postby jimithy » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:27 am

Using methods I have learned here, I pay a small percentage of the $8 copays that the VA charges for medications and medical supplies. This is done by buying the same medications OUTSIDE of the VA at a fraction of the $8 per month VA cost. Expensive medications are the only ones I get through the VA system. My income is low enough (once you count in Medical Deductions) that I should be paying nothing for my doctor visits.

The VA will not accept my Medical Deductions even though I keep receipts on EVERYTHING and bring them in to my local VA hospital billing department so they can verify all of my receipts are for legitimate deductible expenses. The problem is that Atlanta controls the purse strings and they no longer believe billing departments in hospitals as large as the one in Philly. They want me to send all my ORIGINAL receipts to Atlanta so that they can inspect (and keep) them.

This is a ludicrous requirement. Not even the IRS demands that you mail them your receipts. The IRS actually believes the local agents that inspect your receipts.

I have a lot of specialists that I MUST see quite regularly. The VA charges $50 per outpatient visit to a specialist. They define a specialist as anyone practicing in the health field (even if they are not a doctor and even if they have NO degree whatsoever) who is not your General Practitioner (primary doctor).

Therefore I have very low copay costs... but very high VA bills.

When I have too many doctor visits in a short period of time, I cannot afford the monthly bill. I go to billing and arrange a payment schedule. Basically it is 1/10th of your outstanding bill at the time you set up the payments. Each month I pay that payment PLUS whatever new monthly charges that come up. It can be very difficult because I live off of a Social Security check as my only income.

The VA makes life MUCH more difficult than just making those payments. They have attached 15% of my Social Security check multiple times. :shock:

No regular creditor can touch that check but the federal government has special privileges. When you barely have enough money to feed yourself... losing 15% of your monthly income is rough. They attach my check even if I have made ALL required payments on time.

I finally got someone in billing to explain why they do this.

If you send your payment to Atlanta then they control what charges are paid with each payment. If ANY individual medication or medical supply copay bill goes over 90 days without being paid off... they automatically attach your check.

The local billing department person (I have always found them to be helpful and friendly) told me how to avoid having Atlanta screw me.

Now I ALWAYS send my checks to my local VA hospital's "Agent Cashier" (Just ask and they'll give you the correct address.) I ALWAYS include a letter explaining exactly which charges are to be paid with my check. If you look at your bills you will see an item number to the right of each charge. I state the dollar value, the date of that specific charge, the item, and the item number of every charge I wish to be paid.

For example:

Please pay $8 for the 1 month drug copay on 10/12/07 item # EN94289453
Please pay $24 for the 3 month drug copay on 10/12/07 item # EN97896479

If you have less than the full payment for the last item you are paying then...

Please pay $5 towards the outstanding balance of $24 for the 3 month drug copay on 10/12/07 item # EN09234597

I pay ONLY the medication or medical supply copays first. Then and only then... IF there is money left over from my payment... I will pay the oldest doctor visit copays to complete the list of how EACH dollar is to be spent. For example:

Please pay $37 towards the outstanding balance of $50 for the doctor visit on 10/12/07 item # EN76845567

They do not automatically attach your check if your doctor visit charges extend beyond 90 days.

It is important to set up a payment schedule if you have outstanding charges that will be more than 90 days overdue. It reduces your payments and they are much less likely to attach your check to pay for old doctor visits.

I hope this post keeps someone from going through the terrible problem of what to do when your inadequate Social Security check suddenly (I only had 2 days notice last time.) gets reduced by 15%.

Please complain to the Patient Advocate and ALL of your politicians. If no one complains about VA problems then they will not ever get fixed. :evil:

Good luck! :D
jimithy
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