The development comes from a new contract between Evergreen Health Care and Maryland Veteran Affairs. Under the contract and the state’s new health insurance co-op, Veterans in Maryland will have two options: They can keep waiting for a primary care doctor through Veterans Affairs, or they can visit doctors at one of the four participating Evergreen facilities, located in Baltimore, Columbia, Greenbelt and White March.
VA systems are technically required to see new patients within 14 days, but when too many patients try to sign up at once, it creates a backlog, and many veterans were experiencing wait times up to 90 days. This is a problem for the many patients who need regular checkups, like the 50% of adults who have gingivitis on three to four teeth.
The agreement benefits veterans as well as the VA and Evergreen Health Care. An audit of the VA earlier this year revealed that the system wasn’t taking in new patients quickly enough, so the new measures will help with their backlog. Evergreen has been experiencing slow business since fewer people than expected signed up for health insurance through their co-op, which was made possible by the affordable care act. The influx of veteran patients should help them increase their business.
The contract states that Evergreen and the VA will spend up to $485,000 for continuous primary care for up to 1,000 veterans. Depending on demand and resources over time, the contract is subject to change.
Similar non-profit co-ops like Evergreen are operating around the country, attempting to disrupt the high price insurance market by offering plans with low price tags and plenty of benefits. They’ve been met with varying levels of success. Evergreen’s been fairly successful, underpricing their services to draw in a higher number of patients.
Evergreen Health Care Board Chairman and insurance co-op founder Peter Beilenson reached out to the Maryland VA when he heard about the long wait times for Veterans looking for health care.
In a statement released on thursday, VA Maryland Health Care System Chief of Staff Adam M. Robinson Jr. said that the “partnership is a major component of our aggressive action plan to improve patient access.”