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Major Differences in Health Policy

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Introduction

Historically, there have been distinct differences in the policy of the United States’ three main health care providers. The policy governing the operations of the Military Health System, Veterans Health Administration, and the public sector present two major differences.

Major Differences in Health Policy   

Contrary to the other health policies, the Veterans health care policy does not prioritize equal access to health care services by all of its patients. The eligibility criteria are not as open as those of the private sectors (Military and Veterans' Health Care). Its services are offered with some regard to the members’ status-of-discharge alongside his/her length of service enrollment. Oliver (2007) points out that the Veteran Health Administration policy gives priority to the low income patients and to those patients with suffering from their service related conditions.

Being a commercial venture, health private sector has a policy that favors patients who can pay for their services rather than the low income patients. Since these health facilities rely on the treatment levy for their funding, their policies prioritize health service delivery that is commensurate with the amount paid by the patients (Kovner & Jonas, 1999).   

Additionally, the VHA policy provides for relatively autonomous operations and management of its twenty-one Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs). The policy allows each of these networks to independently plan and budget the veterans’ health care in their respective regions though regulated through capitation (Oliver, 2007). However, this autonomy is missing in the Military Health Care system. The policy in the latter system advocates for the centralization of its administrative functions.

Despite these differences, it is important to note that policies of any of these three health systems can influence policy making in the rest of the systems. For instance, a policy change to include extended members of an active soldier as a beneficiary of the Military health care would influence the veterans’ health policy to include such relatives. In the same breadth, such policy changes would influence the policies of the private sector to reduce its medical fee on its patients.

Conclusion

In order to answer the question whether the issue is significant enough to spend political resources, one needs to identify the political effects on such policies. Unless there is a greater political influence on policies regarding the administration of health facilities and resource allocations, there is no need to introduce politics in the health care policy formulation.

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