The healthcare system of the United States is commonly associated with state-of-the-art hospitals and highly-trained physician. However, the general performance of the U. S. healthcare system has been determined to be a less than that of other industrialized countries. Such observation is mainly due to the differences in healthcare systems among states, regions and health administrations. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is a socialized healthcare system managed by the government. It provides varied healthcare support to veterans or ex-officio military servicemen and their families.
Survey shows that approximately 83% of VHA patients are satisfied with the healthcare that they have received. In addition, survey depicts that 69% of the patients were treated within 20 minutes of their appropriate appointment with their physician (DeNavas-Walt et al. , 2005). Also, approximately 93% of the patients participating in the survey indicate that they had seen a specialist within the last 30 days. Such observations show that the Veterans Health Administration provides an exemplary system of healthcare, much better than the private sector.
However, it also could mean that the VHA is associated with more costly healthcare rates than the other healthcare systems such as the Military Health system and the private sector. This characteristic compensates for the types of members that would avail of the VHA benefits, who are actually veterans, which are commonly composed of older, sicker and illness-susceptible individuals. In addition, these veterans are generally poorer, homeless and victims of substance abuse, which represents a major difference from the major population in the United States.
It has been estimated that more than 50% of the VHA enrollees are above 65 years of age. The private sector’s healthcare system is mostly focused on intervention-based healthcare, which means that the physician will generally treat a patient who is already suffering from a particular illness (Frogner and Anderson, 2006). Such system is thus less costly than the VHA system, because the patients enrolled in the private sector will only resort to requesting medical attention when the need arises.
In the private sector healthcare system, health insurance is generally bought by the employer on behalf of its employees The VHA system, on the other hand, follows the prevention approach to health care, which involves providing checkups and education to its veteran patients in order to avoid more serious illness in the future. The Military Health System, on the other hand, provides healthcare to individuals who are currently active in the military service, including members of their family.
The benefits of the Military Health system falls under the blanket coverage known as the Tricare, which is almost identical to that of the private sector’s system of healthcare management (Smith et al. , 2005). Here the enrollee pays a small portion of the total cost of the healthcare service, such as 20% of a surgery, for example, and the other 80% is paid for my the Military Health System. Each visit to the physician, just like the private sector’s healthcare system, is associated with a small co-payment, such as $10 per visit, regardless of specialization of the doctor to which consultation was made.
The mission of a healthcare system is to provide medical services at the lowest practical price and at the same time, with the best feasible quality. The integration of electronic medical records in the Veterans Health Administration has provided a model for the other healthcare system to follow suit. In addition, the private sector has also use the VHA’s mission in providing prevention-based medical services, instead of just intervention-based services.
DeNavas-Walt C, Proctor B and Lee C (2005): Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States: 2004. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau.
Frogner BK and Anderson GF (2006): Multinational comparisons of health systems data, 2005. New York: The Commonwealth Fund.
Smith C, Cowan C and Sensenig A (2005): Health Spending Growth Slows in 2003. Health Affairs 24(1):185–94.
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