VA Health Care Getting a Bad Rap
June 12, 2010 – They’re not uncommon phrases: “if you want something to fail, give it to the government to run” and “good enough for government work.” While there is a seemingly popular belief that the government is a completely inefficient and overgrown monster, they are doing one thing very right: veterans’ health care.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is completely government operated. VA employees are paid with government money and the hospitals they work in are run by a government administration. Quite simply, VA hospitals and medical clinics operate under government-run health care.
While the VA has much different motivation than all other health care providers, A Congressional Budget Office 2007 report referred to VA as an “industry leader” in the quality of health care they provide. Indeed, the VA provides some of the most progressive health care available. When that health care isn’t available, their research teams are most likely discovering how to make it available.
The VA is heads above both private sector and other governmental suppliers of health care in almost 300 measurable categories of quality. Year after year the VA receives the highest marks in patient satisfaction and, maybe one of the most important considerations when looking at health care from an administrative standpoint, the VA has low costs and high quality at the same time.
Critics will say it is easy to take care of people already considered healthy and soldiers and veterans keep themselves healthy. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Veterans are less healthy than the general population when measured as a group. Generally, veterans are:
- More likely to smoke; and
- More likely to suffer from diabetes.
Despite their bad rap, the VA health care system is setting the pace and the example in many areas of health care. The VA has been innovative in a number of fields ranging from developing electronic record keeping systems to improvements in surgical technology. The VA health system is consistently top rated and serves as a model for other health care systems. When their model has been copied, it has produced incredibly positive results.