Health Insurance for Veterans Safe

Veteran Health Insurance
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When President Obama addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Arizona, he emphasized that health insurance coverage for service personnel was not in jeopardy. “No one is going to take away your benefits,” he said. Yet his reassurances have not completely quelled the worries of veterans that their health insurance coverage may change.

Perhaps they are worried because they are currently the recipients of the type of program that is under heated debate at the moment: a public health insurance option. Americans tend to forget that the Veterans Health Administration is a government-run health insurance plan that provides benefits to millions of veterans.

According to a Rand Health Research report, “Improving Quality of Care: How the VA Outpaces other Systems in Delivery Patient Care,” the public option model seems to be working very well for veterans. When it comes to health insurance coverage, the Rand report notes that “VA patients were more likely to receive recommended care” and they “received consistently better care across the board, including screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow up.”

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President Obama says he is going to improve that care. In his Phoenix speech, he told veterans that they can count on billions of dollars going toward treatment centers, case managers, mental health screening for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and improved health care for wounded troops. He also promised to restore access to health insurance coverage from the VA to about 500,000 veterans who lost their eligibility in recent years.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, “the current budget proposal for the VA contains the largest increase in funding in 30 years.” To oversee the changes to the health insurance delivery by the VA, Obama has hired Eric Shinseki, a former Army general who served under President Bush as the United States entered the war in Iraq.

The Rand report notes that “if other health care providers followed the VA’s lead, it would be a major step toward improving the quality of care across the US health care system.” The Congressional Budget Office says the current health insurance reform overhaul should learn from how the VA operates. The question is, will we?

SOURCES:

Christian Science Monitor, 8/17/09
NPR, 8/14/09
Rand Health Research Highlights: “Improving Quality of Care: How the VA Outpaces Other Systems in Delivering Patient Care”
Think Progress 8/17/09

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