Study: More veterans are uninsured
About one of every eight veterans under the age of 65 is uninsured, a finding that contradicts the assumption many have that all vets qualify for free health care through the Veterans Affairs Department, says a new study.Republicans like to say they support our troops, yet according to American Legion spokesman Peter Gaytan, veterans now making as little as $24,000 a year in some regions still don't qualify for health coverage from the V.A.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School projected that about 1.8 million veterans overall lack health coverage. That's an increase of 290,000 since 2000. The researchers said most uninsured veterans are in the middle class and are ineligible for VA care because of their incomes. Still others cannot afford their copayments, or lack VA facilities in their community.
"Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people — too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor and a physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance.
Sadly, as Gaytan points out, "The number of uninsured vets could rise in coming years if soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have trouble getting back their old jobs. It will be an increasing issue that needs to be dealt with."
The Harvard researchers said the best solution would be universal health coverage in the United States. It sounds like a plan to me, one that would not only help the veterans left behind by the Bush administration, but all Americans.