The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 28, 2014

Equitable system for all

I would like to comment on one aspect of the Veterans Administration’s problems and the care for those who have served our country so well. I am a veteran myself and was in the last group of physicians who were drafted after I finished my residency at Geisinger Medical Center.

I am concerned about duplication of insurance benefits. I am still working and have health insurance but like 50 percent of working people who have insurance, I have a large deductible before my insurance kicks in. I chose not to use the veterans’ program because I see that young veterans need more care and are waiting longer to seek treatment for more serious conditions.

Often times as a family doctor, an older veteran who has not seen me for many years and has multiple problems will send me a list of 30 or 40 lab results. I need to evaluate these abnormalities and interpret the results. Coordination of care is difficult with any patient who has four or five major illnesses but impossible to interpret on someone I have not seen for years. The future of medicine is for the doctor and the hospital system to be paid for prevention of disease rather than the system we used in the past waiting until the patient has developed the disease and say “good, now I’ll take care of you.” But keeping people healthy is difficult especially if the patient is not invested in the process.

VA cannot be everything to everyone. We as older vets, who also have personal insurance, need to help make room for our younger and more needy veterans. Interestingly, an older vet who has a C pap for sleep apnea sometimes because of obesity will get 60 percent disability from the Veterans Administration while a vet from Iraq or Afghanistan who has lost a leg is compensated at only 30 percent disability. This is not right or fair. We must work for an equitable system for all. We must all use our limited resources wisely. 

John P. Pagana, M.D., Sunbury

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