A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) does a much better job controlling health care costs than the private sector delivery system which is used by Medicare and all private sector insurance plans.
The CBO estimates that the VA’s health care cost per enrollee grew by only 1.7 % from 1999 to 2005, which amounts to 0.3% annually. Medicare’s costs grew 29.4 % per capita over that same period, or 4.4 % per year. In the private sector insurance market (employer and individual plans) premiums increased by more than 70% during this period.
The CBO report also says that the VA scores better than the private sector when it comes to patient/customer satisfaction. In 2005, the VA achieved a satisfaction score of 83 out of 100 for inpatient care and 80 out of 100 for outpatient care. The same survey showed private-sector providers of got 73 for inpatient care and 75 for outpatient care.
Phillip Longman wrote a book titled Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Healthcare is Better than Yours. He is quoted in a May 28th health care blog saying, “In study after study published in peer‐reviewed journals, the VA beats other health care providers on virtually every measure of quality. These include patient safety, adherence to the protocols of evidence medicine, integration of care, cost‐effectiveness, and patient satisfaction. The VA is also on the leading edge of medical research, due to its close affiliation with the nation’s leading medical schools, where many VA doctors have faculty positions.”
The VA system is responsible for 24 million veterans and treated about 5.5 million last year. It has a budget of $50 billion and operates more than 1,400 VA facilities, including 950 outpatient clinics, 153 hospitals and 134 nursing homes. The VA computerized patient records system is recognized as cutting edge and a model for controlling costs for Medicare and the private sector.
So why didn’t the recent health care debate focus on the VA as a model for a re-designed American health care system that can control costs and deliver top-notch care? The answer is that the VA system, where the government owns the hospitals, clinics, and labs, and employs the doctors and nurses….. is socialized medicine.