Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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2007 Enrollee Survey Announcement

July 2, 2007

The VHA’s Office of the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health (ADUSH) for Policy and Planning will soon be conducting the 2007 update of our national VHA Survey of Enrollees. The purpose of the survey is to provide information that is incorporated into annual VHA projections of enrollment, utilization, and expenditures, as well as into a variety of high level VHA budget and policy related analyses.

The survey provides critical and essential information on veteran utilization of health services, used in projecting the resources and services needed in VHA, and in developing our budget. The survey collects information on a random sample of 42,000 veterans enrolled in the VA system, who participate in an approximately 15-30 minute telephone survey.

Each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) will have approximately 2,000 enrollees surveyed. The survey will be fully initiated the week of July 8, 2007. Interviewing will continue for 8 weeks. The survey asks basic information that is not reliably available, such as health insurance, days spent in non-VA care, and employment status. Improvements in the survey since it was last conducted in 2005 include more detailed questions on health insurance and, in particular, prescription coverage. A small portion of veterans will be asked why they choose to use VA healthcare.

Your support in this survey will help ensure that we provide the best care possible, where it is needed, when it is needed, and by whom it is needed. Previous survey reports are available at http://www.va.gov/vhareorg — the VHA’s Office of the ADUSH for Policy and Planning internet Web site.

 

FACT SHEET OF FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS OF VETERANS SURVEYED

What is the Office of the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Planning?
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health (ADUSH) for Policy and Planning supports the offices of the Under Secretary for Health and Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health as an advisor on the development, implementation, and impact of VHA policy, strategic planning, and forecasting on the demand for health care services.

What is Macro International, Inc.?
Macro International, Inc. is an independent research company that conducts surveys for the government and the private sector. Macro International, Inc. operates several computer-assisted telephone interviewing facilities throughout the United States and has a trained staff for conducting telephone surveys. You can get more information about Macro by visiting their Web site, http://www.orcmacro.com *.

Why am I being surveyed?
We are surveying a representative sample of veterans who have enrolled to use VA health care services to ask questions regarding their use of health care, insurance, and their health status. VHA uses these data for a number of purposes such as forecasting future need of VHA services, budgeting to meet these needs, and requesting funds from Congress. The survey helps answer questions about veterans’ health care needs and health status posed by VA, Congress, the Administration, and the public.

Why should I participate?
You have been selected to participate in the survey as a part of a national representative sample of veterans who have enrolled to use VA health care services. Your participation is voluntary, but very important because your answers will represent your circumstances and experiences, as well as those of other veterans. To make sure the results of the survey represent the veteran population as a whole, it is important to hear from you.

What kinds of questions will be asked?
The survey asks questions about your health status, insurance, health care utilization, period of service, employment, and income. Because there is no other reliable source to provide us with this information, your responses will provide us with the most accurate, up-to-date information for our veteran enrollee population.

Why should I answer the questions?
You should voluntarily answer the questions so that your views are heard and counted. The answers you provide will not affect any VA benefits that you receive.

When will an interviewer call?
Macro interviewers will begin calling a few weeks after you get this letter. They will keep calling for several weeks until they reach you. They will also call in the evening and on weekends if they cannot reach you during the week.

How will I know the person calling is really the Macro interviewer?
The interviewer will give you his or her first and last name, and say he or she is calling from Macro about the letter from Dr. Michael Kussman.

Can someone help me participate in the survey if I have health reasons that make it difficult?
Some veterans may find participating in a telephone survey difficult because of their current health status. If you feel unable to participate in the telephone interview, you can designate someone else to answer the questions for you – as long as that person is knowledgeable about your health insurance, health status, and health care needs. If you do want someone to help you, let the Macro interviewer know. He or she will set up an appointment and speak to that person.  Some veterans due to a hearing impairment or a speech disability may find it easier to use a telephone relay service and work with a communications assistant to participate in an interview. It is possible to utilize these services free of charge by dialing “711,” and providing Macro’s 1-800-992-5186 number to call. A Macro interviewer can then complete the interview with you on the telephone at that time.

Am I required to answer the survey questions to keep my VA benefits?
No. Your VA benefits are authorized by law. Your VA benefits cannot be reduced or stopped if you refuse to answer any or all of the survey questions. You can choose not to answer any question asked of you, and you can choose not to participate in the survey.

What assurance do I have that the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Planning Office and Macro will keep everything confidential?
In addition to the professional responsibility that the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health (ADUSH) for Policy and Planning and Macro researchers have to keep answers confidential, they are also bound to do so by law. All individuals who are involved in this survey signed a legal agreement promising to keep your information strictly confidential. The information you provide will be confidential and protected by law (the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 522a and section 5701 of Title 38 of the United States Code). The information that you provide will not be released to the general public in a way that can be traced back to you.

What is MACRO doing to make sure my information is kept safe?
Your computerized information is kept in secured buildings. The Macro telephone research center is under 24-hour video surveillance, and entry is permitted only to employees. Your personal information is kept on computers that are secured in locked rooms where only authorized personnel have access. The computers are programmed so that only authorized staff use them. No one else will have access to the files. Your information will not go home with anyone. A computer will dial your phone number unless there is difficulty getting the right number to reach you.

The interviewers who speak to you will briefly see your name, telephone number, and study identification number on a computer screen at the beginning of the interview so that they can make sure they have reached you and not someone else. The interviewer will ask additional questions, such as your age, to verify that he or she has reached you and not someone else. We are doing everything possible to make sure you are protected.

What will happen with my answers?
Once Macro completes them, the survey results will be turned over to the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Planning Office for analysis. VA will protect your identity and answers to the extent allowed under the law. Your answers will in no way affect your benefits. No information that you provide will be released to the public in any way that can be traced back to you.

What will be done with the results of the survey?
The Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Planning Office will use the survey results in developing their report and recommendations about benefits for veterans and survivors of veterans. Your participation is important for this study’s success – we need to talk to veterans like you. This survey was first conducted in1999 and last conducted in 2005. This will be the sixth update and the information is critical to supplement our knowledge of: whom we serve; their demographic characteristics; their other eligibilities and resources; their self-reported utilization of VA and non-VA care; their health status; and their need for health care programs and services, including long-term care.

Where can I get a copy of the information collected in the survey?
National data reports from previous surveys are available on the Office of the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health (ADUSH) for Policy and Planning VA internet Website at http://www.va.gov/vhareorg/. We expect to have a report from the data collected in this survey by Winter 2007.

Whom do I call if I still have questions about the survey?
If you have questions about the survey or respondent rights, you may call VA toll free, 1-877-222-8387 (VETS). – Option 0 (zero), Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM until 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Whom do I call if I am ready to do the survey?
You may call Macro toll free at 1-800-992-5186 to complete the survey. They will be there Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, and from 11:00 AM until 9:00 PM on weekends. You may also contact Macro International directly to arrange to participate in the survey at 1-800-992-5186. If you choose to call, please refer to the 9-digit number that appears on your letter.

Whom do I call if I have questions about my VA benefits?
If you have questions about your VA benefits, you can call VA toll free at 1-800-827-1000 or visit VA’s Web site at http://www.va.gov.

* This link will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site and will open in a new window. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of linked Web sites.