with Timely Service Delivery
Veterans Care Idea
(This note added after post was published: Thanks to Nancy for providing this link to Kevin Ferris' 11/10/07 Philadelphia Inquirer article titled "A son's pain leads a father to call for help for the VA" documenting the idea source below. This article very effectively describes what too many of our veterans experience in their efforts to seek needed care.)
My Veterans Day post elicited some interesting comments deserving of further thought. Here are some matters which have been on my mind for some time.
A comment from Nancy from Pennsylvania (blog not known, or she may not have one) noted:
"Some of our young men and women are waiting months for appointments at the VA hospitals around the country. While they wait, they often suffer."
This "waiting" is a critical issue for me, as is the "suffer" from the delay. This is true not just for our veterans, but for all our current health care services, and for whatever system we may adopt in the future. Timely delivery of medical services is vital to optimize recovery and minimize deterioration.
Veterans definitely require timely deliver of medical care. Also, any consideration we give to modifying our current health care system, and certainly all plans for a national health care system, must ensure timely delivery of services, whether or not the ailment is life threatening.
My information gathering for several recent years about universal health care systems in other countries (Great Britain, Canada) is on a first person anecdotal level -- from young to elder adults. The one consistent criticism with their systems is with the care delay in many non-life threatening situations. The reports are of long waits "a year or more" for medical care/service for what is considered "elective surgery" i.e. joint, hip replacement surgery and many other non-cosmetic services that can seriously deteriorate with time from a bad situation to worse or more. A few months ago one individual I met reported, in reference to undue service delays, "...not just one year, but two!" This young woman added, "I should know, because I work for the NHS." (National Healthcare System in Great Britain)
I am not writing this in opposition to adopting a national healthcare system in the USA. The lack of healthcare for too many people in this country is a blight on our nation, sad commentary on our society, and heart-breakingly tragic for those parents, children, families, friends, neighbors, others, when they have need. I know of several individuals, in their midlife years, who are only a step away from losing their home, being forced into bankruptcy, should a medical problem require hospitalization and surgeries. The job they hold to pay what insurance they currently can afford would possibly be lost. Or, they might not even be able to perform their previous work if they are able to return following recovery.
I simply want to clearly define at least one of the features I consider essential to any healthcare system we adopt in this country -- timely delivery of services and not just for life-threatening medical problems. I wonder what features are considered vital by others?
Incidentally, (and this is hardly an incidental matter since I'm in this group,) those with what they believe currently to be good insurance coverage and medical service from their doctors, (my primary coverage is Medicare supported by a private supplemental plan,) would be well-advised to recognize we are not immune from possible less desirable health care changes in the years ahead as rising health care costs continue unabated.
I have read numerous reliably documented reports that an increasing number of physicians are refusing to accept Medicare insurance-covered patients. In fact, I have reason to believe I experienced this denial in one instance when I had to seek a specialist a few months ago. I was accepted at another specialist's office, but never saw him, only his nurse practitioner.
The question might be, to what extent does the fact that Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians are being decreased influence these physician actions? The rate decrease is noted in this American Medical Association's Patients Action Network report.
The issues I've mentioned here are only a few threads extracted from the healthcare coverage cloak in which we all want to wrap ourselves, so that we each can have the care we desire and deserve in this wealthy nation of ours. We certainly do need to continue to dialogue about these topics and others which readers might suggest.
One of those threads, Nancy mentioned in her comment, was a possible way to ensure our veterans receive the healthcare to which they are entitled. Here's what she wrote:
"A local activist here in Pennsylvania has a suggestion that he hopes will be put into action in relief of these veterans.
"His plan is for every Doctor in the country to "Adopt" a veteran to take care of. Just think, the young man or woman who needs help would be treated locally by a Doctor who would have a sincere interest in him/her.No long waits for appointments with a hassled Doctor at the VA who has hundreds of others to take care of at the same time. The local Doctor would become a friend, healer and champion of the vet who needs him .
"What do you think? Would it work?"
My response, Nancy, is anything is possible, but probable is another question. I'm not a Doctor, so I will not presume to surmise what the medical profession's reaction to this idea might be. I believe the local activist would be wise to consult with some doctors as to the viability of such an undertaking, to understand the pros and cons of the matter, if the activist has not already done so. If this idea has any realistic expectation of being adopted, I would think the local activist's best chance for successful implementation will be by obtaining the physicians' support. If the activist gains a Doctor(s) support, then perhaps the plan could be undertaken on a small scale. The idea seems simple and workable enough on the surface, but I think the layers in making it function are more complex.
I would certainly welcome others ideas on Nancy's question and on other healthcare issues, whether or not mentioned here.