Going beyond standard health care to address veterans’ social needs

Team Mighty
Oct 24, 2023 9:14 AM PDT
1 minute read
Active veterans taking a walk outdoors

Active veterans taking a walk outdoors

SUMMARY

Humana takes veteran health care seriously, from Medicare Advantage plans to health equity.

The post-9/11 era of veterans are starting to get older. Those who signed up in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks are turning 40 this year. Desert Storm and late Cold War vets are starting to retire. Time passes fast, and if we don’t stop to look around, it might pass us by entirely. 

For aging veterans, navigating the health care system can be a particularly daunting task with so many different options that can vary person to person. VA health care, TRICARE, CHAMPVA, Medicare—it’s a lot to digest.

“Some veterans have access to VA services, while some aren’t eligible,” Stephanie Muckey, a Marine Corps spouse and caregiver who leads Humana’s Veteran Health Equity & Social Impact strategy, tells We Are The Mighty.

When someone starts talking about Medicare, the gut response for many veterans (especially those with a high disability percentage) is that they get VA health care and don’t need Medicare. But, Muckey says even the VA recommends eligible veterans enroll in Medicare.

This confusion is precisely why Humana has a team dedicated to helping Medicare-eligible veterans understand how Medicare may work alongside their current benefits and what other resources are available to support their unique needs.

“Humana has Medicare Advantage plans designed to complement VA health care where it needs to,” she says. “And we tailor those plans with veterans in mind.”

Humana USAA Honor plans are available to anyone eligible for Medicare, including veterans’ spouses, but they are designed in a way that may work alongside the benefits a veteran receives through VA health care.

While Medicare Advantage plans provide a multitude of benefits that support the health of beneficiaries, what really interests Muckey in her role at Humana goes beyond visits to the doctor or hospital. She is part of an extensive team dedicated to understanding and addressing needs that directly impact a veteran’s health but may not be managed in a typical healthcare setting.

Beyond the Doctor’s Office

Whole-person health isn’t just checkups, annual screenings and vaccinations. An individual’s environment plays a big role in overall health. For example, if someone doesn’t have access to regular meals or they aren’t able to pay their heating bill, that can have a detrimental impact both physically and mentally.

This is why Humana has partnered with hundreds of Veteran Service Organizations and other like-minded organizations across the country to connect veterans with community resources and address health-related social needs as risk factors to veteran suicide. 

“One in five Medicare-eligible Americans is a veteran,” says Muckey. “So, they’re in our neighborhoods, our churches, the grocery store…veterans are all around us, and we can all help support their social health needs by connecting with them.”

Muckey says the company’s focus on veterans began many years ago with a Vietnam veteran who worked for Humana, bringing the needs of the veteran population to the table to say, “This is important. These are the individuals who put their lives on the line to sacrifice for our freedoms and there's more we can do here.” 

“We now have a team of veteran community engagement executives and regional veteran executives, who are all veterans or military spouses, focused on connecting and assisting our agents and providers in understanding what the needs are, and bringing people together to help serve veteran communities.” 

What they found is there are a lot of factors that take place outside of the doctor’s office that are affecting veteran health and the quality of veteran lives. In fact, some of the biggest challenges include food insecurity, homelessness, employment, transportation, and housing insecurity. 

Muckey says Humana is committed to ensuring all veterans and military members have access to the care they need and deserve, especially those who stem from underserved and diverse communities.

Humana and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) launched the Uniting to Combat Hunger Campaign in 2018 to fight food insecurity among veterans, providing more than 4.5 million meals since the campaign’s inception. This year alone, more than 150 local VFW Posts and Auxiliaries teamed up to lead activations in 40 states, totaling more than 111,000 pounds of food and more than $171,000 donated to local food banks.

“These needs don't live in a vacuum,” Muckey explains. “Oftentimes these veterans are experiencing multiple social needs. If they have financial strain, they're also going to struggle with food insecurity, for example. It's pretty consistent across generations, but social needs increase for underserved and diverse veteran populations, including female veterans, veteran communities of color, and veterans struggling with mental health challenges.”

Humana has developed a specialized tool, the Humana Community Navigator, that anyone—whether they are part of Humana or not—can use to connect to resources in their local community that they can use to address specific needs. 

“There are 18.4 million veterans in the US who chose to put service before self to secure our freedom,” according to Muckey. “They deserve our very best, especially as it relates to ensuring their health care needs are met.”

About Humana USAA Honor Plans

For the first time, all of Humana’s veteran-focused Medicare Advantage plans are now co-branded as Humana USAA Honor plans and will be available to more beneficiaries in more locations for the 2024 plan year. These plans are available to Medicare-eligible individuals during the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Election Period Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, with coverage beginning Jan. 1.

Veterans and Medicare households have access to Humana Customer Care specialists who collaborated with USAA to receive special training to better serve the unique healthcare needs of veterans—many specialists are veterans themselves and can make it easier for them to manage their health. 

Individuals can visit www.Humana.com/Medicare/Veterans or call toll-free 1-833-585-8387 (VETS) (TTY: 711) 8 a.m.–8 p.m., seven days a week, to speak to an agent who is trained to support the unique needs of veterans.


Disclaimers: Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, and PFFS organization and a stand-alone PDP prescription drug plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal. The Humana USAA Honor plans are available to anyone eligible for Medicare and veterans should consider all of their health plan options. Humana Insurance Company pays royalty fees to USAA for the use of its intellectual property. USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates. Use of the term “USAA member” or “USAA membership” refers to membership in USAA Membership Services and does not convey any legal or ownership rights in USAA. Restrictions apply and are subject to change. USAA and the USAA Logo are registered trademarks of the United Services Automobile Association. All rights reserved. No Department of Defense or government agency endorsement.

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