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Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 10:55 AM   #1
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Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

I use the VA for medicines... and go to a VA Outreach Clinic annually to qualify for the medicines... the medicines are prescribed by a non VA Doctor.

I had open heart surgery about 6 years ago at a local non VA Clinic/Hospital and I continue to go back to that facility for my annual physical and biannual checkups and any other health needs. We have HD health insurance through my DW's part time job.

I have thought about using the VA for all of my health needs and dropping the HD health insurance for myself but I am reluctant to give up the HD insurance because the closest major VA Hospital is about 150 miles from our town. I am 59.

Gonzo
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 11:05 AM   #2
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

I used to live near a very busy VA hospital, and I felt waiting four or five hours for my medication was a little excessive. As far as treatment goes, I received treatment there only when I did not have insurance, and I would not go back for anything. I would rate the treatment at the VA hospital as worse than my worst experience in a military hospital. Even the local hospitals would bill me later and still provide treatment. Now the VA hospital is a lot farther away and I still would use them for anything.
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 11:45 AM   #3
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

My brother is retired-early, uses the Portland VA hospital and rates them highly. Strong preventative medicine focus. He uses them or Costco for meds. Portland VA is has a relationship with OHSU.
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 12:12 PM   #4
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

I have seen the VA system from the inside. It's complicated: you can get state-of-the-art care or substandard care at the same hospital on the same day, and customer service is equally unpredictable.

Combination of staffing issues, resource allocation, politics and federal bureaucratic issues like elsewhere. Usually when these discussions arise they are notable mostly for vastly divergent anecdotes.

If you get a good primary care doctor and are prepared to wait and perhaps be seen by students and residents as part of every visit (at least in the teaching hospitals), it may have a place but I'd be prepared to opt out on an illness-by-illness basis. By all means, take advantage of the prescription service if you qualify.
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 12:53 PM   #5
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

My Dad used the VA for a couple of hip replacements and they went well. But later they lost his records and he just gave up on going back for follow up visits. It got to the point he couldn't even rely on getting his drugs sent to him on time. This was back in the 70's and early 80's. Could be different today.

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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 01:33 PM   #6
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

Thanks all for the comments...

I have not yet seen a Doctor at the VA... I have only seen a Nurse Practitioner!
She seems like a skatter-brain... I guess I'm not ready to hand over my primary health care to her just yet.

Gonzo
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 02:06 PM   #7
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
I'm starting to get a bit jaundiced about the pharmacy system, too.

First rant: If banks can transfer gazillions of dollars electronically with minimal fraud or leakage, then why are doctors still writing prescriptions on paper pads? Give 'em a pharmacy's secure website with a login & password and have them do it electronically! And heaven forbid the prescription should be filled and waiting for my pickup before I haul my butt out of the doctor's office and stroll over to the pharmacy. Even refills that were phoned in and ready for pickup had to be handled by a "C" ticket.
We are getting there - Kaiser Permanente in Georgia has electronic link from the docs office to the pharmacy (actually their whole office including medical records is in electronics form). If the line is not very long, by the time I get out of the office, pay my co-pay and take two flights of stairs it might wait for me.

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I'm aware that I come across in this as a grumpy vet with a chip on his shoulder
My, my, so they do chip officers in the Navy nowadays? Is it RFID enabled?


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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 04:21 PM   #8
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzo
I have not yet seen a Doctor at the VA... I have only seen a Nurse Practitioner!
She seems like a skatter-brain... I guess I'm not ready to hand over my primary health care to her just yet.
That's one of my fears with socialized health care.
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 04:36 PM   #9
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

My brother uses a PA, a guy who is a long time friend. Maybe that is why is care has been top notch.
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 05:53 PM   #10
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Combination of staffing issues, resource allocation, politics and federal bureaucratic issues
I used our local VA clinic when my disability claim was being processed (A.O. exposure). I spent minimual time there (my case was already validated by my "outside" doctor, since I am still working), but I could see that the "system is strained".

I'll continue to use my "own" doctor after I retire May 1st, but if I'm driven to the VA in the future (due to loss of coverage for whatever reason) at least I'll have a lot of "old guys" to share stories with!!!

It's a government program, and it's millitary related, so FUBAR is the "order of the day" ...

- Ron

Oh yes, for you "non-military" folks, FUBAR is "fuc*ed up beyond all reason/recognitation"...
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 07:27 PM   #11
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
I have seen the VA system from the inside. It's complicated: you can get state-of-the-art care or substandard care at the same hospital on the same day, and customer service is equally unpredictable.
I'm starting to get a bit jaundiced about the pharmacy system, too.

Let's take a fairly innocuous, routine, non-rocket-science not-death-defying situation. Our kid's dermatologist prescribes several acne ointments with refills. We could go to Long's Drugs, hand over the paper, shop for 20 minutes, and pay $3-$18 for each fill.

Last week we went to Makalapa Clinic and took a number. There are four prescription windows and a priority system labeled A-D. Five or six "A"s, several "B"s, and a couple "C"s are served for every "D". (You can guess which ticket I was holding, but that's entirely appropriate for us retirees and I'm not whining.) Filling the prescription took 90 minutes. Several of those "A"s, active duty on their lunch hour, waited over 30 minutes. But it's free!

First rant: If banks can transfer gazillions of dollars electronically with minimal fraud or leakage, then why are doctors still writing prescriptions on paper pads? Give 'em a pharmacy's secure website with a login & password and have them do it electronically! And heaven forbid the prescription should be filled and waiting for my pickup before I haul my butt out of the doctor's office and stroll over to the pharmacy. Even refills that were phoned in and ready for pickup had to be handled by a "C" ticket.

Second rant: HIPAA has gone too far. When my kid turns 16 I need her permission (and several forms of evidence) to persuade the pharmacy that I'm authorized to pick up her prescriptions for her. Hey, we're not talking abortions or BCPs here-- just a common antibiotic or a cosmetic ointment. At least she'll be able to drive her own butt down there.

Third rant: Administrative rules are too complicated and detract from the pharmacist's primary missions-- safety & customer service. The pharmacy staff lectured me on my ignorance for trying to pick up our 14-year-old's prescription without her permission. It took the pharmacy staff two tries to locate the proper paperwork and to then explain why the paperwork said "16" when they thought the rule was "14". I hope they get better training on the safety rules, and I hope the safety rules don't change as often as the administrative requirements.

Fourth rant for you veterans: Makalapa Clinic had an O-5 checking the work of the pharmacists. They literally had to enter all the data , fill the prescription, scan their personal bar code, and then call the O-5 over to get his concurrence and his own scanned barcode. I was afraid to ask who screwed up badly enough to be punished like that-- the pharmacists or the O-5? Or the customer who had to wait 10 minutes for the O-5 to work through the approval backlog?

BTW the pharmacists scan their personal barcodes from an sticky label attached to the back of their hands. It's only a matter of time before BUMED & BUPERS tattoo the barcodes somewhere, and then a personnel assignment officer is going to say "Hey, admiral, that sounds like a great idea for the rest of the Navy!"

I'm aware that I come across in this as a grumpy vet with a chip on his shoulder, but I believe that these issues are common to all pharmacies-- even if they're actually run for a profit and not just for service to the fleet.

All things considered I think I'll fill our next few prescriptions at Long's. Next time I'm too likely to end up in Makalapa's anger-management classes-- or their psych ward.
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 07:30 PM   #12
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

Quote:
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I'm aware that I come across in this as a grumpy vet with a chip on his shoulder
Nah, sounds normal to me : !!!

- Ron
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 10:12 PM   #13
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron'Da
Oh yes, for you "non-military" folks, FUBAR is "fuc*ed up beyond all reason/recognitation"...
Hunh, we always had to call it "fouled up beyond any recall"...
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-09-2007, 10:17 PM   #14
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

You guys are crackin' me up! Could VA service be a glimpse into the future? (I couldn't resist). I swear I won't make any more comments on this thread!
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-10-2007, 07:28 AM   #15
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

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Originally Posted by mykidslovedogs
You guys are crackin' me up! Could VA service be a glimpse into the future? (I couldn't resist). I swear I won't make any more comments on this thread!
Check your private messages.
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-10-2007, 09:15 AM   #16
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords

Second rant: HIPAA has gone too far. When my kid turns 16 I need her permission (and several forms of evidence) to persuade the pharmacy that I'm authorized to pick up her prescriptions for her. Hey, we're not talking abortions or BCPs here-- just a common antibiotic or a cosmetic ointment. At least she'll be able to drive her own butt down there.

HIPAA doesn't say that. You should be able to just go in and pick them up. One problem with HIPAA is that providers don't always understand what it requires, sometimes to the point of being rediculous. For example, Greg wanted a copy of his glasses prescription and stopped at the place where he last bought glasses to get it. They wouldn't give it to him, saying that HIPAA would not allow it. BS.
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-10-2007, 09:24 AM   #17
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

That's funny, they wouldn't give him his prescription saying it would violate privacy laws. I had a similar issue with the government not releasing my military records to me citing privacy issues and not wanting to release my social security number. Heaven forbid I find out what my social security number is. :


A second question about HIPAA, when I was actively patrolling the roads we would receive "check welfare" calls often. Since my town was primarily elderly the search normally led us to the local nursing home. The workers often tell me that they could not release any information about any of their residents, to include who was a resident. They would cite HIPAA for this. Is this an accurate interpretation of the law?
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-10-2007, 01:09 PM   #18
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-10-2007, 03:35 PM   #19
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

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Originally Posted by lets-retire


A second question about HIPAA, when I was actively patrolling the roads we would receive "check welfare" calls often. Since my town was primarily elderly the search normally led us to the local nursing home. The workers often tell me that they could not release any information about any of their residents, to include who was a resident. They would cite HIPAA for this. Is this an accurate interpretation of the law?
If you ask for a resident by name they can tell you if they are there. However, residents, I believe, can ask to be delisted. At least those who are in a hospital can ask for this.

There was a story a few years ago about a man being killed in a car accident. The family didn't know he was in a accident, they only knew he was missing. They called the local hospital who for "privacy reasons" would not tell them if he was or was not there. It took a few days before the family found out that he either died in the hospital or was brought there dead. The hospital misinterpreted HIPAA.
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?
Old 01-10-2007, 03:53 PM   #20
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Re: Does anyone use the VA for medical care?

Spent my 6 yrs (Regular Navy) 1963-1967 active, honorable discharge, and tried to get some type of reasonablly priced health insurance from the
VA here in Wisconsin and was told i was a class 8...which means can get no aid at all as net worth is to high... Serve your country, work hard all your life to get ahead, and this is one of your rewards. have a nice day..
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