Monday, May 27, 2024

Is It Unreasonable To Expect More From Our Military Medical Care?

November 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Health, Politics, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.comWhen you join the military, you gain access to one of the largest healthcare systems anywhere in the United States. Military healthcare alone spans across 9.4 million patients in nearly 700 military hospitals and clinics. During active duty, both you and your family members are eligible for free health care under the TRICARE health care system. This is the closest thing we have to universal healthcare, and it seems only fair. Those who join the military, after all, work to keep our country safe. Not only that, but they often face life threatening and dangerous situations to do so. The least our government can do, then, is to ensure they don’t have to worry about health insurance.

Sadly, there have been many ripples in the military healthcare world recently, and many of them suggest that this system isn’t working the way we might hope. The main issue, as with anything in healthcare at the moment, is that of downsizing. Military personnel only receive these healthcare benefits when attending military-specific health centers. But, you guessed it; many of these are facing closures. This shouldn’t be a problem given that a little something called CHAMPUS (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services), should see them reimbursed regardless. But, many military members who have had to seek off-base medical care only received partial reimbursements. As such, they either have to face excessive waiting times for care or take care of costs themselves. That’s not exactly the deal they signed up for.

And, these aren’t the only issues military healthcare is facing right now. There are also accusations that healthcare here isn’t half as efficient as we might hope. Given that these are our national heroes, they surely deserve the best our doctors have to offer? But, a look at the facts shows that isn’t the case right now. Namely, you could argue that this issue comes about as a result of four different entities owning military health services right now. With the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Defense Health Agency all having their say, it’s no wonder wires are getting crossed. This leads to ineffectuality and issues. Luckily, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 looks set to integrate the system, a change which many would argue is long overdue. Still, we have yet to see whether attempts here will improve the situation as it stands.

In the meantime, our military personnel are having to cope with all manner of healthcare related issues and mistakes. Like, for instance, the fact that there were 545 medical omissions or errors in military hospitals from 2014-2017. A case which often falls under the radar due to what’s known as the Feres doctrine. This 68-year-old doctrine stops military personnel from being able to sue the federal government as a result of injuries. This is a fact Walter Daniel found out the hard way when his wife Navy Lt. Rebekah Daniel bled to death at a Washington military hospital hours after giving birth. What’s worse, Daniel was never given any real explanation as to what happened or why. Even though his wife died more than four years ago, this is a case he’s still fighting for now.

At the start of this month, Daniel took his case to the U.S. supreme court, but things don’t look good going forward here. Even in the face of blatant medical neglect, the courts seem unwilling to revisit a doctrine with clear ethical implications. This is despite the high instances of errors in hospitals like these. What’s more, the Daniel case opens a can of worms regarding the fact that military hospitals have a consistently higher rate of postpartum hemorrhages.

The Feres Doctrine isn’t the only legal instance with cause for concern among military health, either. According to the Defense Base Act, any civilian worker, including military personnel, is eligible for compensation after receiving injury during service. Yet, many individuals find they have no choice but to contact someone like Turley Law Firm’s seasoned DBA lawyers to fight for what they’re owed. This is a fundamental right which, on top of the healthcare issues stated above, isn’t being followed through.

So, what does all this mean? As stated, things do look set to change with the integration of military healthcare. But, it seems that closer attention should be paid to both the rights offered and the way they’re dealt with. One thing’s sure; the military could soon face issues if healthcare doesn’t soom come up to par.

Staff Writer; Bobby Parker

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