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Off-the-shelf fix for veteran hospital waiting lines
The Hill ^ | 11/26/14 | Todd Berkley

Posted on 11/26/2014 11:17:18 AM PST by 54fighting

Off-the-shelf fix for veteran hospital waiting lines

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and his widow and orphan”. This Abraham Lincoln quote on a plaque in front of the Veterans Administration building is a succinct mission for the VA. Our veterans have earned our best efforts toward this end.

Congress recently acted in a rare bi-partisan fashion to ease the scandalous backlog. Nine million “Veterans Choice” cards allow access to care outside the VA for veterans living at least 40 miles from a VA facility or on very long wait lists. I applaud the efforts of the new VA Secretary Robert McDonald to rally his organization and give straight answers regarding the on-going challenges. Unfortunately, these efforts are still falling short. “It is important to know that the Choice Card does not provide guaranteed health-care coverage,” explains McDonald in a letter to the first card recipients. “In fact, before your Choice Card for this benefit can be used, your eligibility must be verified and you must receive advance authorization from VA.”

So the fix does not free recipients from bureaucratic entanglements after all.

Fortunately, there is another solution, proven to give people convenient access to health care and control cost in the process. That solution is a health savings account (HSA). The good news is that we could solve this problem using existing HSA accounts and card technology in use in all 50 states today.

Nearly 20 million Americans are covered by HSA-qualified plans and HSA accounts are offered today by thousands of banks, credit unions and other trustees. These accounts allow people to save tax-free for eligible medical expenses by pairing an account with a qualified high-deductible health plan.

The money in an HSA is often deposited by an employer or through a payroll deduction, but it is owned by the accountholder immediately and can be saved, invested, or spent on qualified medical expenses tax-free for the life of the accountholder, and for his or her spouse and current tax dependents.

The VA could create a simple plan structure with a cash contribution into an HSA account to cover all or part of an HSA-qualified high deductible. Veterans would then be free to access qualified health care with the HSA card anywhere they choose, without bureaucratic oversight. Any doctor or clinic accepts cash.

The VA would also discover that people consume care more prudently when you give more control over how the money is spent or saved. Numerous studies show people in HSA programs are more compliant with free preventive care and engage more deeply with their care.

This concept could be extended to all VA recipients as an option. This would create choices and improve satisfaction for the veteran, and further alleviate pressure on VA hospitals and clinics and otherwise reduce costs for the VA. I receive many questions at my education site from veterans wondering why they are not able to freely access this increasingly popular health plan option.

Thousands of current HSA trustees are ready to help immediately. The accounts earn interest and are set up with debit cards for easy access. The best HSA accounts offer educational support, bill pay, mobile apps, and investment options to grow the money not spent immediately to save for future health care costs.

No further legislation would be needed to fix this problem. This solution is available right now with the proper VA plan design. However, we could also help current veterans who purchase HSAs on their own by removing the restriction on contributing to an HSA account for three months every time they receive care at a VA facility or if they are covered by Tri-Care.

Rarely does such a simple solution arise to address an intractable problem. The VA should take advantage of HSA accounts to give our veterans access to the care they need. Our veterans have “borne the battle” and have earned our best efforts to fulfill this mission.

Berkley is a leader in the HSA industry, author of the “HSA Owner’s Manual,” and the man behind

TOPICS: Health/Medicine; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: healthcare; hsa; veterans

1 posted on 11/26/2014 11:17:18 AM PST by 54fighting
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To: 54fighting

BS just fix the stoooopid system

2 posted on 11/26/2014 11:25:18 AM PST by easternsky
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To: 54fighting

I like the idea.

Why should the medical side of the VA exist, except as a support group to enable veterans to share solutions? At least offer the option.

Eventually, the better providers will be discovered and shared by VA members, who now have the means to access.

I went through something similar with prostate cancer and ended up moving to where the best providers are, via support group knowledge.

3 posted on 11/26/2014 11:38:11 AM PST by cicero2k
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To: 54fighting
This is simple:

Close the vast majority of VA Facilities, except those specialty facilities for military specific treatments.

Then make every vet eligible, at uncontrolled market rates, to access the plethora of HMO's and Private plans with the VA slate of benefits.

The same 8 or 9 tiers of service and access could still be applied to those commercial plans.

1. Purple Heart Disabled.

Honorably Discharged with Service Connected Disability of 50%+. Both without restriction, everything covered, no deductibles or co-pays.

Move down from there.

4 posted on 11/26/2014 11:44:07 AM PST by Mariner (War Criminal #18)
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To: 54fighting

The thesis here is that the people who have the ability to engineer the system such that it takes advantage of “off the shelf” (eg; existing, inexpensive) solutions for something have absolutely ZERO interest in doing anything of the sort. They are not spending their money! The more people implanted into a bureaucracy underneath them, the more secure their (now more senior) positions become. The more studies are undertaken, the more important they therefore must be. There is no interest in “saving money”. There is as much interest in saving money as you and I have in growing warts.

5 posted on 11/26/2014 11:52:18 AM PST by Attention Surplus Disorder (At no time was the Obama administration aware of what the Obama administration was doing)
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To: Mariner

Instead they’ll infuse more money and unionize.

6 posted on 11/26/2014 12:12:37 PM PST by TurboZamboni (Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.-JFK)
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FReepers! Let's go!
Every donation counts!

We're going to need a big push to
wrap this up. Let's git 'er done.

7 posted on 11/26/2014 12:24:46 PM PST by RedMDer (I don't listen to Liars but when I do I know it's Barack Obama.)
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HSA accounts would be owned by the veterans with full control of how they spend the money. It is their own money.

8 posted on 11/29/2014 7:53:46 PM PST by ToddBerkley (Author of the original article in The Hill and of The HSA Owner's Manual)
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