Hospital system courts veterans in unprecedented ad campaign

Dive Brief:

  • Ascension Health, based in St. Louis, is launching a multi-million dollar ad campaign targeting military veterans eligible to receive federal coverage for private healthcare under the Veterans Choice program approved in 2014, The New York Times reports.
  • The campaign is making waves as the first major private healthcare marketing effort toward veterans.
  • Some veterans groups have voiced concerns over the move, including whether it will weaken rather than support the VA health system by pulling away too many patients and their coverage. 

Dive Insight:

Aside from the impact to the VA system, key questions include whether a private health system is up to the task of fulfilling veterans' needs and whether billing issues are likely to arise from veterans seeking private care without confirming their eligibility for the program. Veterans Choice requires veterans to either live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility or to have a long wait for care.

The financial stakes are high for Ascension, the VA, and any other providers involved in veterans' care; Congress approved $10 billion over three years to pay for veterans' private care at Medicare rates, The New York Times reports.

Ascension is eyeing the program for the long haul as it suggests the temporary Choice program be extended past its 2017 expiration date. "We're looking to continue to be part of the solution," Ascension spokesman Nick Ragone told the Times.

Some veterans are questioning whether Ascension is qualified to manage combat-related health conditions and other issues specific to veterans. Ascension says it is addressing veterans' issues in provider training.

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Filed Under: Payer Hospital Administration
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