Sunday 24th of January 2021

Veterans without Health Insurance

A recent study revealed that almost two million United States veterans are without health insurance. To make matters worse, the study also found 3.8 million members of veteran households to be without health insurance. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, criticizes a healthcare system ill-equipped to handle the individuals returning in droves from Iraq and Afghanistan. The authors of the study contend that the lack of healthcare is a disservice to the men and women who put their lives on the line for their country. In this post, we’ll discuss the study in more detail and explore what it means for those returning from overseas deployments.

The Numbers

The statistics revealed by the study are dismal and elicit serious doubts about America’s treatment of, and commitment to its veterans. So many do not have access to any healthcare whatsoever, and the trend is getting worse. Consider the following statistics included in the study:

  • The number of uninsured veterans has increased by 290,000 since the year 2000.
  • In 2000, 9.9% lacked health coverage. In 2004, the year for which the most recent data is available, 12.7% lacked health coverage.
  • One in eight non-elderly veterans now lacks health insurance.
  • 49.1% percent of uninsured veterans report not having seen a doctor in the past year.
  • About 60% of uninsured veterans said they either couldn’t get coverage or were delaying it because of cost concerns.

Why Don’t They Have Health Coverage?

A common assumption is that all have access to Veteran’s Administration care, but this is untrue. The VA healthcare system is not accessible to everyone. Access to the VA is contingent upon a service-related disability. Uninsured veterans cannot get VA care because of recent changes that prohibit the enrollment of most middle-class veterans. For those without a service-related disability, access to the VA is means-tested. In other words, those who make more than $30,000 per year are ineligible for VA care.

The Opposition

Some experts advocate opening up the VA system to all, but opponents say this deviates from the true purpose of the VA: to address the service-related disabilities. Critics of universal access to the VA say that the institution was never meant to be a universal healthcare system for all. In support of their argument, they say the cost of opening up the VA to all veterans would be prohibitive. Moreover, universal access to the VA would overload the system, possibly making it more difficult for those with serious, service-related disabilities to receive proper care.