Most Americans Support Improving Veteran Health Care but Not Raising Taxes to Pay for It

Written by Aaron Munz

There are currently 18.2 million veterans in the U.S., according to the latest U.S. census data, and more than one-third are older than 65. Because of the increased chances of exposure to toxic chemicals while in service, veterans have an elevated cancer risk. As a result, the Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry (VACCR) reports about 50,000 cancer cases each year.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care system provides affordable and accessible health care to veterans and their families. The Veterans Health Administration serves 9 million veterans at more than 1,255 facilities nationwide.

The Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry (VACCR) reports about 50,000 cancer cases each year

VA health care facilities provide an excellent level of care. According to RAND assessments conducted under the Veterans Choice Act, VA health care was rated higher quality on many measures compared to civilian facilities, particularly for outpatient care.

However, many veterans are missing out on VA care. The RAND assessments also reported that fewer than half of eligible veterans use VA health benefits. Those who did use VA benefits relied on them mostly for prescription drugs and inpatient services, receiving over half of their health care from a secondary source such as private insurance.

The benefits of VA health care make it indispensable for the well-being of millions of veterans. However, many Americans believe there is room for improvement. We surveyed 3,000 Americans and asked them how they felt about the current state of veterans health care, if it should be paid for, and if they support raising taxes to fund veterans health care initiatives.

Read on to learn:

79% of Americans Agree U.S. Veterans Need Better Health Care Options

Most Americans believe the current state of veterans health care could use improvement. When asked “How do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘U.S. veterans need better health care options,’” 79% of respondents chose “agree” or “strongly agree.”

Pie chart representing survey results on whether Americans believe that veterans need better health care

Additionally, there was a slight correlation between age and tendency to agree. Seventy-one percent of respondents aged 18–34 agreed, but that number jumped to 85% among the 55 and older group.

81% of Americans Believe All Veterans Health Care Should Be Paid For

Drugs and biologic agents used for cancer treatment can cost more than $10,000 a month, according to the National Cancer Institute. If a veteran doesn’t have adequate coverage, this can be a devastating financial blow.

When asked “Do you think all veterans health care should be paid for?” 81% of respondents chose “yes.” Women believed this slightly more than men. Seventy-seven percent of men responded “yes,” compared to 85% of women.

Drugs and biologic agents used for cancer treatment can cost more than $10,000 a month, according to the National Cancer Institute

Only 2 in 10 Americans Support Raising Taxes for Veterans Health Care

While the majority of Americans favor improving veterans health care and making it paid for, most don’t favor raising taxes to accomplish this or prefer not disclosing their opinion, according to our survey.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, 8% of federal tax dollars were designated for veterans benefits and services as well as retirement and disability benefits for federal employees in 2017. This was more than what was allocated for education (3%), transportation infrastructure (2%), and scientific and medical research (2%) combined.

Pictograph representing survey results on whether health care for veterans should be paid by the government and if taxes should fund it

Veterans and Mesothelioma

Asbestos was widely used in military buildings and equipment until the 1980s when it was phased out due to its carcinogenic effects. Many veterans were exposed to asbestos during their service, making them particularly vulnerable to mesothelioma — commonly referred to as “asbestos cancer.”

Because symptoms can take 20–50 years to appear, military personnel may be diagnosed decades after their service. Today, veterans file nearly 30% of all mesothelioma lawsuits in the U.S.

Veterans file nearly 30% of all mesothelioma lawsuits in the U.S., according to Asbestos.com

The VA provides veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma financial benefits and medical treatment from mesothelioma doctors. To see if you or your loved one qualifies for benefits, even if the VA previously denied your claim, our experts can help. Learn more about treatment costs, secure benefits, and appeal denied claims with our free VA claims assistance.

Methodology:

This study consisted of three survey questions conducted using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. The survey ran during October 2019.

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Last Modified October 29, 2019

Director of Veterans Department

Former U.S. Army Capt. Aaron Munz is the director of the Veterans Department at The Mesothelioma Center, and he is a VA-accredited Claims Agent. He received the Bronze Star in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Munz has intimate knowledge of how veterans were exposed to asbestos because he served under similar conditions.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at Asbestos.com
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6 Cited Article Sources

  1. Veterans Health Administration. (2019, July 14).
    Retrieved from: https://www.va.gov/health/aboutvha.asp
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017, July). Balancing Demand and Supply for Veterans' Health Care: A Summary of Three RAND Assessments Conducted Under the Veterans Choice Act.
    Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650119/
  3. CNN. (2019, October 5). Department of Veterans Affairs Fast Facts.
    Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2014/05/30/us/department-of-veterans-affairs-fast-facts/index.html
  4. U.S. Census. (2017). Veteran status.
    Retrieved from: https://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/17_1YR/S2101
  5. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Financial Toxicity and Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)'Health Professional Version.
    Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/managing-care/track-care-costs/financial-toxicity-hp-pdq
  6. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (2019, January 29). Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go? Retrieved from: https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go
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