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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany


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Healing our nation’s heroes: Longtime employee helps beneficiaries navigate TRICARE for Life

By Pamela Jackson | | December 8, 2011

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The TRICARE for Life health benefit option can be quite cumbersome to navigate without assistance, especially when there are 11 different plans to choose from. Fran Quinn, health benefits advisor, Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, assists eligible beneficiaries navigate the complex system. According to BHC Albany personnel, TRICARE coverage ends at age 65 and the only way to keep those benefits beyond age 65 is to elect Medicare part B and enroll in TRICARE for Life, which pays for direct care in a military hospital on a limited space available basis. Quinn said beneficiaries pay for Medicare part B, which covers up to 80 percent of inpatient and outpatient care or hospital visits. TFL is a supplement to Medicare and picks up the deductible for the other 20 percent that Medicare does not pay. Chief Petty Officer Justin Haugland, senior enlisted leader, BHC Albany, said Quinn educates the patient population about the different health insurance options they have and provides guidance in selecting the program that will fit their needs. “She is especially effective at her job because she is a TRICARE beneficiary who has personally experienced many of the concerns and challenges that our patients bring to her,” Haugland said. “In addition to advising and educating, she diligently researches billing discrepancies, which contribute to the beneficiary’s quality of care.” Quinn said a typical day for her would be a patient calling or coming in with medical bills that have not been paid and her job is to assist with those unpaid bills. “When a TFL beneficiary comes in with a bill, I immediately start the process of eliminating why it was not paid and how to get it fixed by contacting the doctor’s office to see if it is a filing problem,” she said. “I also help the client submit a corrected claim with the correct diagnosis.” Quinn, who wears multiple hats including beneficiary counseling assistance coordinator and debt collection assistance coordinator, explained she receives calls from not only local beneficiaries, but from individuals all over the country who need help settling an outstanding bill. “As an assistant debt collection officer, I have to go back several years, especially if a person’s bill has been turned over to a bill collector, to try and figure out what happened and why,” she said. One Marine who lauds Quinn for her assistance is Col. Drexel D. Heard, director, Distribution Management Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command. “Some time ago, I was contacted by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital regarding a medical bill in excess of $3,000, and since they could not get the money from TRICARE, their billing department charged me,” Heard said. “In response, I contacted BHC Albany and was promptly referred to Fran Quinn who looked me in the eyes, asked me to have a seat and stated, ‘Don’t worry, we will get to the bottom of this.’ Heard said within 24 hours, Quinn solved the problem and personally notified him of the corrective action. “Fran clearly understands her job and is committed to ensuring our Marines, sailors and retirees understand TRICARE, are properly cared for and treated fairly by the hospital systems,” Heard said. Haugland noted many of Quinn’s customers compliment her on being able to explain seemingly complex health benefits issues in an easy to understand fashion, which helps them select the correct coverage. Those who work with Quinn on a daily basis love her. She is referred to as sunshine, grandma, friend, confidante, an invaluable asset, a person with a wealth of knowledge, the glue that holds the office together and a “go to” person who doggedly follows through until a resolution is reached for patient issues. Fran has been employed with the federal government for more than 50 years, all of which has been in the medical field. “The most rewarding thing about my job is the service I provide and I learn a lot from my clients,” Quinn said. “As a recipient of TRICARE for Life, I know how complex it can be and I can personally relate to their issues.” Quinn said at age 80, she is thankful every day to be able to open her eyes and still come to work to help someone. “It is the satisfaction I get from digging into their problems and solving them,” she said. “They have enough to deal with without having to worry about a large bill they do not owe.” According to the website, www.tricare.mil, TRICARE is a health care program that serves all branches of the military, retirees, their families, survivors and certain spouses worldwide. It is one major component of the military health care system that brings available resources together and supplements them with networks of civilian health care professionals, institutions, pharmacies and suppliers to provide access to high-quality health care services.

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