Don’t compare Veterans Health Administration to Medicare

The Aug. 4 FLS editorial [“Warner chastises foot-dragging VA”] ended with a misleading conclusion: “… should give pause to all those contemplating a government takeover of the nation’s entire health care system.”

The Veterans Health Administration is not representative of federal government healthcare when considering any type of national healthcare insurance system. Instead, compare Medicare to other forms of private health care.

The VHA owns 170 hospitals, 1,074 outpatient clinics and has nearly 300,000 employees. It is more like the U.K.’s national health care system.

Medicare is more like the private U.S. health insurance system with one exception—the private, for-profit health insurance industry takes from 15 to 18 percent of every premium dollar for administrative costs, while Medicare takes less than 3 percent of its allocated tax revenues for administrative costs.

Medicare is considered by most health care providers and patients to be an efficient, well-run system, unlike the VHA. Medicare does not own any facilities or directly employ healthcare providers. It uses existing providers like the private insurance industry does.

Simply using the term “government healthcare” is too vague, broad and misleading, especially when only using the VHA as a point of comparison.

Michael Heinzmann


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