• 9 Investigates: Insurance rules that can cost our veterans

    By: Jason Stoogenke

    Updated:

    NORTH CAROLINA - U.S. Army veteran James Peace was in an accident two years ago, so the Davidson resident went to a doctor. 

    Peace receives VA benefits and Medicare.

    He knew the VA would pick up the whole tab, but he said he didn't tell the doctor that and the doctor billed Medicare first. 

    The VA covered some of the bill but not all, he said.

    The VA wouldn't pick up the rest because the VA doesn't act as a secondary payer and neither does Medicare doesn't either, officials said.

    "Something that is so frustrating and nothing you can do," Peace told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke. 

    [ALSO READ: Channel 9 helps veteran with throat cancer make progress after uphill battle with VA for disability]

    Peace said he didn't even know there was a balance until he saw his credit report. 

    "Why do I have bills? Why am I in collections? And why is it showing up on my credit report?" he asked.

    [ALSO READ: PREVENT Initiative: Executive order to combat veteran suicide]

    So, he went ahead and paid the tab, which was $127, but the blemish stayed on his credit report. 

    "I mean, it was absolutely amazing what one collection does to your credit score," he said. 

    Peace told Stoogenke it dropped his score more than 35 points. 

    "That was (when) I emailed you guys and said, 'Help. I need help.' Twenty-four hours later, it was fixed," he said.

    Action 9 emailed the provider, Atrium Health.

    It didn't respond to Stoogenke directly, but Peace said an Atrium executive called him the same day and helped clear up his credit report. 

    "He was amazing. He apologized and explained to me the whole situation, what had happened, how it happened and why it happened," Peace said.

    If you have both the VA and Medicare, the rule is you can't use both. Neither one will be secondary to the other. So, which do you use?  The general rule is this: If it's a VA facility or the VA referred you, the VA should pay.

    In other cases, use Medicare.

    Make sure you tell your provider which one to start with.

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