Opinion: VA System Inadequate To Meet Veterans’ Health Care Needs

Gretchen Hammer | Health Policy Solutions | November 7, 2012

...However, many veterans are in worse health than members of the general population.  A recent analysis of national data, estimates over 16 percent of all veterans report having limitations in their health such as trouble getting around and living independently, or problems with their vision or hearing. Nationally veterans have twice the rate of suicide than the general population. In Colorado, the number is even more troubling.  The suicide rate for Colorado veterans is 41.8 deaths per 100,000 people, nearly three times the suicide rate for the general population in Colorado.

Many people erroneously believe that all veterans are eligible for health care through the Veterans Administration system.  In fact, access to Veterans Administration benefits is based on a priority system and the nature of discharge from military services, length of services, service related disabilities, income and available VA resources. Some veterans have options depending on their needs. Older veterans or veterans with certain disabilities are eligible for Medicare and can choose to enroll in Medicare only, VA benefits only or both. Many veterans, however, are uninsured.  It is estimated there are approximately 24,000 uninsured veterans and an additional 17,000 family members that are uninsured in Colorado.  One-third of these family members are children...