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Wrong Reputation? VA Health Care is Actually Quite Efficient

— February 14, 2024

The Department of Veterans Affairs may offer better health care benefits than many people think.

If you asked the average person what they thought about VA healthcare, most would point to the inefficiencies that they feel exist in the system. This is certainly the reputation that the VA holds, whether it is fair or not. And, indeed, a recent study points to the VA as actually being the most-efficient options in the healthcare world. That’s a finding that most wouldn’t expect, but it’s hard to dispute the numbers.

This study was performed by a group of researchers from various establishments, and it aimed to look at the administrative efficiency of different healthcare organizations. One thing that isn’t surprising is that administrative costs and staffing are through the roof throughout healthcare. But it’s even worse in the private sector. Roughly 30% of staff fall into the administrative category in private healthcare, which is a huge number.

By comparison, the VA is doing quite well, with just 22.5% of staff being administrative. That 7.5% difference might not seem like a lot, but it’s a huge gap when you consider just how massive the healthcare system is as a whole. For instance, if private healthcare could move its administrative percentage near where the VA operates, almost one million administrators could be cut from the rolls, resulting in huge savings throughout the system. It’s likely that the bloated system in private healthcare is driven largely by the desire for profits and the rules that are imposed by insurers making it nearly impossible to operate with smaller admin staffs.

Wrong Reputation? VA Health Care is Actually Quite Efficient
Photo by RDNE Stock project from Pexels

The obvious gulf between private healthcare and the VA is that the VA system is not designed to turn a profit. Without the need to optimize revenues, the VA is able to prioritize patient care first and foremost, which is the way it should be in any healthcare system. Other studies have shown, as a result, that the VA does tend to deliver better care to its patients than what is enjoyed in the private sector.

It’s a challenging question to determine how what is done in the VA setting could be applied – at least in part – to what happens in private healthcare. Of course, as long as it is a for-profit system, it’s hard to see how significant changes will take place for the betterment of the patients. As long as the businesses behind hospitals and clinics have to worry about their bottom line first and foremost, they are going to struggle to match the efficiency created by the VA.

The study doesn’t mean that the VA has a perfect system – of course, there is no such thing as a perfect system. It does point to the reality, however, that the reputation held by the VA might not be entirely fair, and the operation of the healthcare that it provides to veterans might be far more efficient than what is believed by the general population. If anything, it seems like private healthcare might stand to learn a thing or two from the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Who is most efficient in health care? Study finds, surprisingly, it’s the VA

Administration’s Share of Personnel in Veterans Health Administration and Private Sector Care

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