Study: “Obamacare” Would Help Uninsured Veterans

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May 25, 2012; Source: Capsules: The KHN Blog

A new study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation deserves a lot more attention than it got in the lead-up to Memorial Day weekend. According to the Foundation, if the Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as “Obamacare”) is eventually implemented, some 630,000 uninsured veterans would qualify for the health care reform policy’s expanded Medicaid program and another 520,000 uninsured veterans could get subsidized health insurance coverage via the “insurance exchanges” the Act will create. 

The story may not be who will benefit from the ACA, but rather that out of 12,456,000 non-elderly veterans, there are 1,314,000 million uninsured veterans, plus another 883,000 whose coverage, so to speak, is that they get treated in the VA system, and another 948,000 adults and children in veterans’ families who lack insurance coverage. For all the paeans this past weekend to the soldiers who defend this country’s freedom, the fact that one out of ten non-elderly veterans doesn’t have health insurance and doesn’t use the VA health system is distressing and embarrassing.

Which state has the lowest rate of uninsured veterans? Hold onto your campaign slogans, Mitt Romney, but it is Massachusetts, the state in which then-Gov. Romney created a governmental health insurance program that is purportedly the model for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act program. The uninsured veterans rate in Massachusetts is 4.3 percent, followed by Hawaii at 5.1 percent and Vermont at 5.3 percent, compared to a national rate of almost 11 percent (among the states with the worst rates of uninsured veterans, Louisiana, Oregon, and Idaho all top 14 percent, and Montana comes in at a woeful 17.3 percent). 

This past weekend, the streets of Washington, D.C. were occupied by participants in the Rolling Thunder demonstration, the annual Memorial Day gathering of veterans (and non-veterans) on motorcycles focused on calling the nation’s attention to the POW/MIA issue—that is, remembering prisoners of war and trying to achieve closure on people listed as missing in action.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report would suggest that, in the U.S., there is an abundance of veterans and their families who are being treated as if MIA when it comes to health insurance as well.—Rick Cohen

  • George H. Schryer

    Your article is very interesting but as a veteran I have some questions. First off, your wording seems to denigrate the care offered and recieved through the VA system and is less than what you would get through a “civilian” medical practice. Let me assure you that as an invidual who just switched from a civilian practitioner to the VA system I wish I had done it long ago. The VA system was a lot more thurough than my civilian doctor who never spent more than 5 minutes with me. I would also like to know where you got your figures of the uninsured veterans. Also as I am sure you are aware, the administration is in full attack mode to make veterans pay a lot more for their health care in the future which I feel is an move to get them forced into Obama care.

  • orrbit

    this piece is an opinion submission but it is presented as a news article. Stick to facts please. I don’t care if you are liberal or what your views on the subject are.

  • rick cohen

    Dear George: Very interesting comment! I was referring to the numerous reports about complaints regarding how long it takes the VA to process things, the waiting times that are kind of unimaginable and reflect some disarray within the VA system. The figures regarding uninsured veterans come straight from the articles I cited (the links are in the newswire). If you have different numbers on homeless veterans, please share them! Thanks for your comment.

    Rick Cohen

  • David

    As a veteran of the Vietnam-era Army Airborne, I share the pain of unfunded health care. I have never been to a VA hospital, nor has my mother (a WWII WAVE). Our solution was to buy health insurance and LTC insurance for our families. In other words, we did not whine or seek a bailout. We got jobs and purchased health care, paying one month at a time. Do you think getting a job and paying for life’s necessities would work for other veterans? My four non-veteran kids now have jobs and their own paid medical insurance.

  • Spectre

    BULL! Uninsured Veterans are already covered fully if they are low income. If they are in a higher income bracket they just have a co pay. Obamacare would ruin a good thing. Keep your friggin hands off my VA coverage!!!

  • Nancy Weathers

    I am appalled at the misuse of power which Gov. Sam Brownback has used. It seems like he has a personal vendetta against non-profits; especially if a child of any age is concerned. I work at Heartland Programs Head Start in Salina, KS. I’m really no one special and do not hold any leadership position in the program. However what I do hold is the love for children and the wish that every child regardless of income can dream of a future. I firmly believe that with any Head Start Program that dream could be realized. We address not only the needs of the child but the entire family! Every cut which Gov. Brownback passes affects that dream. Thank you Gov. Brownback for you concern!

  • Mic

    I not sure if any of it is true because Obama said every veteran would be able to go to the va I do but I have one brother in law that was only in 18 months and va won’t even talk to him he still has no health coverage and makes to much to get aid and not enough to pay for it I thought Obama care was supposed to take care of this problem ?????? I guess not