Many US military Vets put off getting the medical care they need largely because of long wait times in the troubled Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare system, a new study shows.
The findings, by Dr. Doohee Lee of Marshall University and Dr. Charles Begley of the University of Texas, indicate “access problems within the VA system may be creating disparities in care for this vulnerable and deserving population that needs to be mitigated.”
The study is based on a survey of about 11,000 Americans that simply asked whether or not they had “put off or postponed getting medical care they thought they needed.” The researchers then compared the type of insurance coverage the participants had.
They found only 1.72% of those surveyed were covered by the VA, yet 29% of the Vets surveyed answered “Yes” to the question. By comparison, just 17% of privately insured Americans answered “Yes” to the survey question.
The researchers also reported that veterans are 1.76X more likely to need medical help than privately insured individuals.
In explaining why many Veterans delay seeking help, the researchers cited a few factors that make doing so more problematic. They explained that, much like the recipients of Medicare and Medicaid, those covered by VA insurance reported difficulty in making appointments over the phone and in acquiring transportation to the doctor’s office.
The findings, published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, are consistent with many other studies examining problems Vets have had in accessing care within the VA system: Nearly 3 out of every 10 US Veterans report delays in seeking care over the past year.
“More studies are needed to expand our understanding of the magnitude and current status of care delay and offer specific steps to rectify related issues on delayed care if reported in military healthcare,” said the authors.
The latest VA report found that 22 US military Vets a day are dying at their own hands, not by overdoses of drugs by by arms.
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