Friday, January 26, 2007

VA Health Care

I'm sure that I've mentioned here that I get my health care through the Veterans Administration. This is one federal agency in which I have confidence. Between the ages of 62 and 65, it was my only option for health care I could afford, until Medicare kicked in.

Here's an example of why I think that VA's health care system today is patient-centered. I signed up for what the VA calls My Healthe Vet. This is one of the services that will be available in the near future. I can already get (and did) a complete printout of all of the lab tests I've had performed over the past 2-1/2 years, I was able to get the results of other tests I've had done, including a CAT scan, and even the actual scan images on a CD.

The doctors at the clinic here in Key West are professional, courteous, and seldom seem hurried or impatient. All of the staff at the clinic, in fact, are the same. They help me to keep myself healthy, which ought to be the approach of any good medical staff. Per patient cost for all of the VA runs just north of $400 a month, as I once calculated. If I had to buy health insurance during those three gap years, the cost was $1,200 a month, and coverage of pre-existing conditions was restricted.

There are seven levels of eligibility for VA health care. I'm at the lowest level, which carries the highest co-pays. The levels are based on whether the veteran has any service-connected disability (I do not), and on an income qualification test (I qualify). Because of the excellence of the care and service, I don't avail myself of any Medicare benefits I may have. I suppose I might, someday, but not for now.

Maybe the Department of Health and Human Services could learn a thing or two from the VA about how to deliver health care to all Americans, especially those 40-million plus who have no health care insurance at all.

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