Posts Tagged ‘HMO’s’

Veteran’s Admininstration: Veteran Abuse Part 2 Treatment!

February 20, 2012

Now for the real meat of my discussion on the Veteran’s Administration.  This probably won’t amaze any of the current veterans out there.  It will get the attention of others who have not been through various Veteran’s Administration hospitals (I use the term hospital lightly).  And for those familiar with HMO’s, they’ll see the similarities and understand the frustrations.

Let’s start with an example of each and every visit to the V.A. hospital.  Each veteran is assigned a primary care physician.  No this doesn’t mean a doctor.  It could and very likely will be what is often called a nurse practitioner.  This has its upsides and downsides.  First off, it allows you to see someone with a bit more knowledge than your average nurse yet not quite the knowledge of a full blown doctor.  Oh, before I get to far, each and every primary care giver is part of a team designated by a color.  I’m unsure exactly what this entails.  Continuing on, there appears to be more nurse practitioners than doctors.  Nothing wrong here as most of the medical community is sadly lacking in doctors.  The process of seeing your primary caregiver is where it all begins.

To get to see your primary caregiver, the veteran has to call the TAP (Telephone Assistance Program)phone number.  There are both pay for and 1-800 (free) numbers.  The pay for numbers are meant to get direct into the offices of the local V.A. hospital.  The hours of this line is restricted.  The 1-800 line is 24/7 and 365 days a year last I knew.  In this phone call you describe to the party at the other end your symptoms and pain levels on a 1 to 10 scale.  From here you may be an appointment for a week to three weeks later.  Does this surprise you?  Not to me.  Sounds just like a HMO.  By the time you get to see someone about your illness, either it’s gone or you’re in the emergency ward.

Once your appointment is set, plan on at least 4 hours or more to get through with your primary care physician.  Yes, 4 hours.  An hour minimum will be spent just getting your vitals done and getting blood tests.  This could be longer depending on the number of veterans using the service at the time.  Most times, I’ve had to go this route, I’ve waited an hour to get through with this alone.  After your done with vitals and blood testing (not performed by your primary care giver but doctor/nursing students most Veteran’s Administration hospitals are medical schools as well) you’ll wait to see your primary care giver.  Again, the wait could be extensive depending on the number of people to be seen.  Now comes the real fun.

You see your  primary care giver (again usually a nurse practitioner).  You describe your symptoms and he/she will look you and your vitals (transmitted from the place taken by networked computer) over.  From here a determination is made as to if you need just a prescription or if you need to see a specialist (a real doctor usually specializing in a specific medical field).  Most times I’ve gone, I’ve had nothing more done but a cursory look over and then shoved out the door with prescriptions in hand.  Even the veteran’s get screwed here.  We pay $8/prescription out of what we make.  Like everyone out there a veteran has to pay attention to this.  If you don’t pay the co-pay as it’s called by the HMO, you’ll pay full price for these prescriptions.  I know for fact.  I’ve had it deducted from my disability.

If you’re lucky enough to get to the next step and see a specialist, that appointment can be anywhere from an additional week to months later depending on his/her scheduled appointments/patients and what specialty it is.  Yes, months later.  See a pattern yet?  Smell HMO here.  It’s all a ploy to make the most money off as little service as possible or to keep you from using the services at all.  Beyond the specialists appointments, I can not tell you as I’ve yet to even see a specialist, though I may have to very soon.

Big thumbs down to the emergency ward at Veteran’s Administration hospitals.  Yes, they are often times worse than an actual military emergency room and not much better than your local civilian hospital.  Case in point.  I went to the ER for a massive headache one night.  It felt as if my head were going to explode.  I was again pumped through vitals and cursory examination after roughly a 4 plus hour wait.  At the end of this trip, I was sent home with nothing more than Tylenol 3 with codeine prescription.  The next night I was back at the ER because this prescription wasn’t working and the symptoms were worse.  Again, another prolonged wait but this time I was given an MRI, an IV, after being initially seen by a REAL doctor.  After a short time the doctor returned to check on me then told me what was the cause of my ailment.  To say I was dumbfounded was an understatement.  Why had it taken two separate trips to V.A. hospital to cure my ailment?  Can we say shoddy work?  I’d say so.  Again, HMO style treatment.  Their in it for the money and not to help out.

Now for the real kicker.  I have a choice when I become ill.  I can either go to a regular doctor and pay through the nose for office visits and specialists to follow on, or I can go to V.A. hospital and deal with lack of timely vital care.  If I had the money I wouldn’t deal with them unless it were for a service connected injury.  Alas, being homeless only allows me this choice.  I deal with V.A. even when the service is even less stellar than most HMO’s.  Those that know what I’m talking about with HMO’s know how bad it really is.

Once again, too much administration and not enough help.  Why you think they came up with the name Veteran’s Administration?  The title explains itself.  They want to administer to the veterans, not cure them or assist them.  My next article will delve more deeply into this as I’ll cover a program set up by the Veteran’s Administration called Health Care for Homeless Veteran’s.