Wednesday, October 20, 2004
1.694 million American veterans were uninsured in 2003, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers released today. Of the 1.694 million uninsured, 681,808 were Vietnam-era veterans while 999,548 were veterans who served during “other eras” (including the Persian Gulf War).
....Many of the 1.694 million uninsured veterans in 2003 were barred from VHA care because of a 2003 Bush Administration order that halted enrollment of most middle income veterans. Others were unable to obtain VHA care due to waiting lists at some VHA facilities, unaffordable co-payments for VHA specialty care, or the lack of VHA facilities in their communities. An additional 3.90 million members of veterans’ households were also uninsured and ineligible for VHA care. Other findings of the study include:
*The number of uninsured veterans has increased by 235,159 since 2000, when 9.9% of non-elderly veterans were uninsured, a figure which rose to 11.9% in 2003.
*More than one in three veterans under age 25 lacked health coverage, as did one in seven veterans age 25 to 44 and one in ten veterans age 45 to 65.
*Many uninsured veterans had major health problems. Less than one-quarter indicated that they were in excellent health; 15.6% had a disabling chronic illness.
*More than two-thirds of uninsured veterans were employed and 86.4% had worked within the past year; 7% of the uninsured vets worked at two or more jobs.
A ".doc" version of their study, which is a survey of several government surveys dating from 2000 to 2004, is available on their website at the above link. They're obviously shilling for one of the candidates, and it isn't the one who wants to introduce more personal responsibility into the healthcare market.
To begin with, if you look at the data on the uninsured by age group since 1987 (pages 71 to 74 of the pdf file) you'll see that Veteran's uninsured rates closely match or are better than that of the general population. For example, Physicians for a National Health Plan say that 11.9% of post-Vietnam era veterans are uninsured in 2003. That would presumably include veterans ranging in age from their early 20's to their early 50's. In 2003, for the general population, the uninsured rate for people ages 18-24 was 30%; for ages 25 to 34 it was 26%, for ages 35 to 44, 18%; and for ages 45 to 54, 14%.
The PNHP were kind enough to break their data down by age. And it confirms that veterans are better off than the general population, as they themselves acknowledge:
Younger veterans were more likely to lack coverage than older veterans. 15.1% of those age 25-44 had no health insurance, vs. 9.9% of those age 45-64. Veterans were about one third less likely to lack coverage than other persons of similar age. (emphasis mine.)
Clearly, veterans aren't being ignored.
As for their other points:
Many of the 1.694 million uninsured veterans in 2003 were barred from VHA care because of a 2003 Bush Administration order that halted enrollment of most middle income veterans.
"Most middle income veterans" already have health insurance, so they don't need the VA benefits. During the Clinton adminstration, the scope of benefits were expanded, and it didn't take long for veterans who already had generous insurance to sign up for VA benefits, too. The influx of new enrollees overwhelmed the VA system, resulting in long waits for care for those who really needed, and who had no private insurance to fall back on. Thus the need for reform in 2003.
(There were also other benefits to the act.)
Which brings us to PNHP's next complaint:
Others were unable to obtain VHA care due to waiting lists at some VHA facilities, unaffordable co-payments for VHA specialty care, or the lack of VHA facilities in their communities.
Can't win, it seems.
An additional 3.90 million members of veterans’ households were also uninsured and ineligible for VHA care.
It's the Veteran's Administration. The healthcare benefits always have been limited to the veterans themselves, and not extended to their families.
The number of uninsured veterans has increased by 235,159 since 2000, when 9.9% of non-elderly veterans were uninsured, a figure which rose to 11.9% in 2003.
The rate of uninsurance for the non-elderly has been steadily increasing since at least 1987, across all age groups. Most of that is likely due to the changing nature of our economy. The days of the The Organization Man are over. We need healthcare insurance that isn't provided by employers, but that's owned by the insured. (With a safety net for the poor, the disabled, the elderly.) PNHP recognizes that, but their solution is for the government to provide a hand out for everyone, regardless of need. And we know where that can lead.
posted by Sydney on 10/20/2004 07:55:00 AM 1 comments
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