Changes on the Way in Military Health Care?
> 2/22/2006 1:03:28 PM

As reported on CNN, the current budget proposal, if passed by Congress could mean big changes for veterans' health care. The Department of Defense, like the rest of the country, is increasingly feeling the crunch of rising health care costs. And to meet their shifting costs, over the last five years health care has accounted for 1 out of every $12 spent by the Pentagon, politicians may have to start making some tough, and political unpopular, decisions.

In the short term, this means asking many veterans and their families to pay higher co-payments for prescription drugs. The new budget proposal also asks military retirerees under the age of 65 to pay increased enrollment fees.

These types of decisions are not the kind that help win reelection, but as the article points out, they are becoming more and more unavoidable.
"Our current trend is unsustainable," Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said.
Another insider was quoted as saying:
"You're having to choose between health care premiums, guns, bullets, airplanes and ships."

Clearly, the time has come for some new thinking, and while the proposed budget might not present the perfect system, the types of changes that it outlines may unfortunately be a necessary evil at this point. That being said, these types of increases, that simply shift an added burden onto retirerees and their families need not be the end solution. There is still a great deal of fat to be cut from the way that health care is budgeted and carried out, especially at the governmental level. Turning to technology to help trim unnecessary redundancies, and cut down on costly paper work would provide some financial relief.

Preventative care for veterans, especially in the area of mental health, could also save money. All to often misdiagnoses or delayed diagnoses lead to a complication of what might have otherwise been an easily (or less costly) treated problem. Just as the private sector has been forced to become more creative in recent years in the way that it approaches health care and medical coverage, so to must the government and military begin to think outside the box on this hottest of issues.

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