Examining Women Veteran’s Experiences, Perceptions, and Challenges With the Veterans Choice Program

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Abstract

Background:

The Veterans Choice Program (VCP) was launched in 2014 to address the growing concerns about the timeliness and quality of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) care. Given that many sex-specific health services, such as mammography and maternity care, are not routinely provided in all VHA facilities, women Veterans may disproportionately rely on VCP care. Understanding the provision and coordination of VCP care is crucial in order to ensure that care is not fragmented across the 2 health care systems.

Objectives:

The main objective of this study was to understand women Veterans’ experiences, perceptions, and challenges with VCP care.

Design:

This study was a semistructured interview with 148 women at 13 VHA facilities nationwide.

Results:

Four major themes emerged: (1) eligibility information for the VCP was limited and confusing; (2) women experienced difficulty scheduling VCP appointments; (3) VCP care results were not shared with women Veterans or their VHA providers in a timely manner; and (4) concerns with unpaid VCP bills were common.

Conclusions:

Our study highlights challenges women experienced with VCP care, and the need for improved care coordination. An ideal care coordination system would be the one in which all Veterans’ non-Veteran Affairs care, including scheduling, follow-up, communication with community providers, coordination of services, and transition back to Veteran Affairs care is ensured.

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