Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 8:31 pm

Health-care horror story … and what we can(‘t) learn from it

Filed under: More fact-based arguing, please — Lex @ 8:31 pm
Tags: ,

This Navy veteran has a horrible story to tell about how badly he was treated by the Veterans Administration health-care system. I have no reason to doubt a word of it.

The problem I have with it is that either the vet, the people who run the Pajamas Media site on which his piece appears, or both suggest, using the phrase “ObamaCare for Vets,” that his experience will be typical of how our health-care system will operate once Congress enacts changes (assuming it ever does). This is highly unlikely, for the simple reason that this guy’s experience, bad as it was, is grossly atypical of how the VA health-care system works right now.

Two years ago, journalist Phillip Longman published a book called “Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care Is Better Than Yours.” And that’s exactly what the book found: lots of studies that led inescapably to the conclusion that overall, VA health care almost certainly is, in fact, better than yours. A partial list of those studies:

  • New England Journal of Medicine, May 29, 2003: VA “significantly” tops fee-for-service Medicare in 11 criteria out of 11.
  • Annals of Internal Medicine, 2004: VA’s diabetes care tops commercial managed-care systems in seven of seven criteria for diabetes care.
  • RAND Corp. study, 2004: VA outperforms all other American health-care sectors in 294 areas of patient care.
  • Medical Care, 2006: Patients in Medicare’s Advantage Program had “significantly higher” mortality than corresponding VA patients.
  • American Journal of Managed Care, 2004: VA topped both Medicare and best available non-Medicare programs in 18 of 18 criteria.

(These are footnoted in the book. I followed the footnotes to the original sources wherever I could, to make sure Longman wasn’t pulling a Coulter with his citations, and in fact those studies said pretty much what Longman said they said.)

There are a number of reasons why this is the case, and Longman examines them in the rest of his book.

One other thing I observed from covering medicine from the paper: chronic, long-term pain frequently is the result of orthopedic or neurological problems. Even the state of the art in treating those problem areas cannot always “cure” or “fix” the patient. That’s as true of any patient in private care as it is for anyone in the VA system.

So, yes, it’s an awful anecdote. But it doesn’t prove a thing about VA health care in general, let alone offer any basis for supposing what a modified U.S. health-care system (or health-insurance system) would look like.

(h/t: Phred)


  1. ODDS & ENDS:

    Hey in Canada there is no waiting , that is if you are a cat or dog.

    “NO FEARMONGERING HERE! New DNC ad: Mobs of right-wing lunatics want to feast on your flesh.

    Plus this: “No need for outrage, though. Instead, celebrate the fact that even with a Democratic president, a filibuster-proof Congress, and the lure of ‘free’ ice cream in the form of socialized medicine, the left’s somehow managed to turn ObamaCare into a clusterfark of such epic proportions that their health-care message has now actually been reduced to ‘Don’t listen to the Republicans — they’re crazy.’”

    Thank goodness we elected a “post-partisan” President!

    And where have all the journalists gone ? Take a look at the Obama administration flak corps. Health care propagandist Linda Douglas is urging the public not to believe their lying eyes.Obama and his Congressional cronies want a single payer system and they have said as much.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Wednesday, August 5, 2009 6:20 pm @ 6:20 pm

  2. And a single-payer system would be bad because … ?

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, August 6, 2009 11:03 am @ 11:03 am

  3. You’re a smart guy so the answer should ne clear. Here is some help
    So please tell me if you have read and understand this bill.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, August 6, 2009 2:08 pm @ 2:08 pm

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