VA offers a wide range of services to support Veterans including financial assistance options to pay copayments associated with VA health care. Veterans are responsible for those copayments and if not paid in a timely manner will be referred to the Department of Treasury for collection. However, if at any time Veterans are unable to make their copayments, VA can help with arrangements to include repayment plans and other debt relief options such as a compromise or waiver.
VA will also consider temporary or permanent eligibility changes to accommodate a Veteran’s financial situation. Veterans are encouraged to contact VA directly to make payment arrangements within 120 days from the date the charge is applied to the account.
VA’s current billing process provides Veterans with three monthly billing statements in an attempt to collect copayments. If a Veteran receives VA benefit payments, VA may use these benefit payments to collect any unpaid delinquent copayment debt. If a Veteran does not have any VA benefit payments, the debt is referred to the Department of the Treasury Debt Management Service at 120 days for collection action. At this point, Treasury will issue an official notification letter to Veterans to make payment arrangements and if arrangements are not made, Treasury will begin collection actions.
These collection actions could include any eligible Federal payments including income tax refunds, Social Security benefits, retirement pay, and certain other Federal or State payments. Treasury can also collect the debt from civilian salaries through administrative wage garnishment or they can collect the debt through private collection agencies. Once a debt is referred to Treasury, VA can no longer accept payments for that debt.
VA will work with Veterans to manage their financial responsibilities and assist in making arrangements to avoid collection actions; however, Veterans must contact VA to request assistance. Veterans who have questions about their copayment obligations are encouraged to contact the Facility Revenue Office at their local medical center, or call the Health Resource Center’s toll-free number listed at the top of their monthly billing statement.
As always, Veterans have the right to dispute a debt and will continue to receive healthcare services from VA regardless of their ability to pay assessed copayment charges.
Susan Reed is responsible for providing leadership and guidance for VHA revenue system processes and outcomes while working in partnership with Veterans Integrated Service Network and VA Medical Center leaders. Ms. Reed is a published author, active member in the American Health Information Management Association and is a registered health information administrator.