Review Criticizes Quality of Health Care for Female Veterans
Female veterans do not receive the same quality of outpatient care as male veterans at about one-third of the 139 Department of Veterans Affairs facilities that offer it, according to a report released on Friday by VA, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Women account for about 14% of the U.S. Armed Forces and about 5% of VA's population, but that number is expected to nearly double in the next two years. The VA's review found the health care disparity even as women are serving on the front lines at historic levels.
The review found a need for more physicians trained to address the health care needs of women, as well as more equipment for women's health. The report noted that other studies had found better surgical outcomes and decreased mortality for women at VA hospitals compared with women enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans or those receiving private care.
Other studies also have shown better performance of breast and cervical cancer screenings among women receiving care through VA than those enrolled in private or other government-sponsored health plans.
William Duncan, associate deputy undersecretary at VA, said the disparity between men and women's health is unacceptable and the department is working to address the issue. He said, "We're striving to understand the reason for these health disparities in veterans health care based on personal characteristics."
The report states that VA has made some progress, such as creating on-site mammography services and women's clinics at most VA facilities. VA also is trying to recruit more clinicians with training in women's care, according to the report (Hefling, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/16).