Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hyperbaric Economics for Veterans

Yesterday's story about Marine Casey Owens got us thinking more about Veteran's Administration healthcare and hyperbaric medicine. We know HBOT is accepted for many of the conditions the VA treats, including some like wound care in which the VA has a special interest. There are encouraging results for other conditions, like the traumatic brain injury (TBI) in yesterday's story, when hyperbaric oxygen is included in the treatment plan.

To get some background, we searched the VA's directory of facilities for "hyperbaric". Out of 1185 entries, just three included our search term. While there are probably many other VA medical centers with hyperbaric facilities, finding them isn't easy.

As we reported previously, the legislation sponsored by Congressman Pete Sessions can help. But with rising healthcare costs and financing reform being the talk of the day, we started wondering what's the most effective way for veterans to start quickly receiving the HBOT treatment they need.

Could a mix of public and private resources be the answer? There are clearly some situations, such as post-operative wound care, where access to a hyperbaric chamber at the hospital is the best approach. We hope the funding provided in through the legislation enables the VA to build them quickly.

For conditions like TBI that can be treated on an out-patient basis, would reimbursement for hyperbaric treatment at private HBOT clinics enable veterans to get treatment faster, more conveniently, and more economically? We welcome reader perspectives and encourage your comments.

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