From Democracy Now

On Veterans Day, a new study estimates four times as many US Army veterans died last year because they lacked health insurance than the total number of US soldiers who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same period. A research team at Harvard Medical School says 2,266 veterans under the age of sixty-five died in 2008 because they were uninsured. We speak to the report’s co-author, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professor of medicine at Harvard University and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Today is Veteran’s Day. We begin with a new study that estimates four times as many US army veterans died last year because they lacked health insurance than the total number of US soldiers who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the same period. A research team at Harvard Medical School says 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 died in 2008 because they were uninsured.

Their estimates are based on their recently published findings in the American Journal of Public Health that shows how being uninsured raises a person’s odds of dying prematurely by 40 percent. The researchers also found that nearly one and a half million Veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 were uninsured last year.

While most veterans are eligible to receive care from the Veterans Administration, those who were not injured in combat and whose income is above a certain threshold are often ineligible.

The report’s authors say the health care legislation pending in the House and Senate will not significantly improve the situation.

Co-Author of the report Dr. Steffie Woolhandler joins me now here in New York. She is professor of medicine at Harvard University and a primary care physician in Cambridge. She is also a co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and testified about uninsured veterans before Congress in 2007.

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professor of medicine at Harvard University and a primary care physician in Cambridge. She is also a co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program. She testified about uninsured veterans before Congress in 2007.

8 Comments

  1. John Barker on November 13, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I’m missing something. Isn’t health care a benefit of being a veteran?



    • Rebecca on November 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm

      As stated above in this article…”While most veterans are eligible to receive care from the Veterans Administration, those who were not injured in combat and whose income is above a certain threshold are often ineligible.” As a veteran, you “used” to be able to receive medical care from the VA even if you did not meet their low-income requirements, all you had to do was pay a minimal co-pay; however, Secretary Shinseki has recently (believe it was in June or July of this year)suspended that option. Now you MUST income qualify to receive medical care, if you do not have a service related disabilty/injury.Unfortunately, our nation is not caring for our veterans to the capacity that it should be.



  2. Dana on November 21, 2009 at 7:58 am

    @John, the article addresses issues of eligibility. A greater issue IME is the issue of access. The VA does not provide health insurance, it provides care at its clinics and hospitals, which may be hundreds of miles from a veteran’s home.



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  6. Act now on August 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    IT IS A DISGRACE THAT OUR VETERANS THAT HAVE RISKED THEIR VERY LIVES FOR ARE COUNTRY ARE BEING ABANDONED! REGARDLESS OF THEIR INCOME THE UNITED STATES OWES THEM FAR AND BEYOND! THIS IS THE WAY OUR HERO’S ARE TREATED? IT IS SHAMEFUL! AMERICA IS BETTER THAN THIS! ALL OF OUR CITIZENS NEED THE BASIC HUMAN RIGHT LIKE HEALTHCARE, ESPECIALLY OUR VETERANS……



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