Pros and Cons of Privatizing Veterans Health Care

When it comes to veterans health care, there are lots of potential changes coming. One of the largest potential changes is the privatization of veteran healthcare. Recently, President Donald Trump had meetings with health care executives to discuss the future of veteran healthcare.

This means that privatization may occur much sooner rather than later. The purpose of this article is to cover the different pros and cons associated with privatizing veteran’s health care services. Continue reading to learn more about the impacts of these potential changes.

The Pros Of Veteran Health care Privatization

When it comes to the pros of veteran health care privatization, there are a few potential positive elements to it. Some examples include easier access to care and potential cost savings. This section is going to cover some of these items in greater detail.

Potential Cost Savings

One positive element of the privatization of veteran healthcare that is frequently cited is its potential cost savings. Privatization would allow veterans to choose from a wider range of private health care professionals. Many of these have lower fees than other options available. The ability to shop for a more affordable care provider would then result in potential cost savings.

Wait Time Reduction

One of the biggest issues plaguing the current veteran health care system is its long waits for even the most standard care. This is where privatization would shine the most when it comes to improving veteran care.

With a private system, veterans could pick from a wide variety of in-network physicians that are approved based on their given plan. This way, they could receive access to the care they need in a fast and efficient manner. This would include access to a specialist when needed as well.

The reduction in wait times also has the potential to help decrease costs further. It does this by helping to ensure veterans are treated before their conditions worsen. By treating conditions as they arise, we can appropriately handle them before they evolve into more complicated ailments that require more invasive treatment options.

Location Availability

Another issue with the current veteran health care system is the location of approved VA hospitals. For many veterans, this results in lengthy travel times to reach their nearest approved hospital. This results in a further delay in treatment and is a major inconvenience to our veterans.

With a privatized system, the network of approved physicians and hospitals would be greatly expanded. This helps to increase the likelihood that veterans will find an office location that is close and convenient for them.

The Cons Of Veteran Health care Privatization

While there are several benefits to privatizing veteran healthcare, there are also several drawbacks as well. This section is going to cover several of those elements like loss of specialization, the potential for higher costs, and more. Continue reading to discover some of the potential cons of veteran health care privatization.

Potential Increase In Costs

While it’s true that some studies state that privatization can possibly reduce operating costs, there are also studies that show that privatization would actually increase the costs associated with veteran care. This is due to key differences in how the current system and a private one would operate.

In the current system, veteran health care centers are all paid for by the government and all workers are given a set salary. Their payments do not change based on factors like surgical procedures, diagnostic services, visit types, specialist appointments, and more.

With a privatized system, veterans would be subject to fluctuating payments based on many different criteria. In a private system, different doctors and hospitals have varying rates for the same procedures and services. Also, doctors are paid based on the type of service they perform. As a result, more complicated medical procedures have the capability to quickly increase operating costs.

Loss Of Specialized Care

With the current veteran health care system, doctors are frequently exposed to a variety of common ailments that our service members fall victim to. This includes things like PTSD, amputations, anxiety, the risk of suicide, rare infectious diseases, and more.

The large volume of patients that come in with these types of ailments provide the VA doctors with the experience they need to successfully treat patients. If care is shifted to the private sector, it is highly unlikely that patients will be cared for by a doctor that has the exposure needed to successfully treat these ailments.

Pricing Fluctuations

Another negative consequence of the privatization of veteran health care is the possibility of pricing fluctuations. With the current system, all facilities and employee salaries are budgeted each year. The cost for medical procedures is paid for at rates that are agreed upon in advance.

However, if the system were to be privatized, those preset spending limits would be gone. The prices for medical care would fluctuate based on the practitioner, the facility, diagnostic tests, and the types of procedures that were being performed. This would result in difficulties planning yearly budgets for veteran health care.

The Verdict

Unfortunately, the decision regarding the privatization of veteran health care is not as clear cut as many would make it seem. The current system is full of problems like long wait times, limited hospital choices, lack of alternative options, and more. These problems have not been adequately addressed with current legislation.

The closest the government has come to addressing the pitfalls of the current system is the Choice program. This program is designed to provide veterans with alternative care options. However, enrollment involves several stipulations that make it difficult for many veterans to take advantage of the program like a 30-day appointment window and more.

When it comes to the privatization of veteran health care, there are many unknowns that can possibly complicate the problem further. For one, many experts agree that privatization will likely result in higher treatment costs for veterans. Also, a privatized system would result in expenses that are much more difficult to predict.

Due to the many different factors that are involved with this decision, more research and continued debate are required. Only then can we come to a sound decision regarding the privatization of veteran health care.