Report: U.S. Needs More Planning For Vets' Long-Range Health Costs

USA Today: An Institute of Medicine study finds that long-range health care costs for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are almost impossible to predict. "The study says costs for the nearly 2 million veterans of the two wars will expand over the next 30 years before tapering off. … These projections are crucial for anticipating how much money and how many services the government must set aside for helping Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the report says. Gauging those needs is difficult because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are 'fundamentally different' than previous wars." Some of the differences between these wars and previous ones are that troops are often serving more deployments, many more are women, more are older troops and many more have families. And the rising cost of health care is a factor (Zoroya, 4/1).

The Associated Press: The report "urged the Veterans Affairs Department to conduct research into developing protocols for caring for these veterans as they age. Roadside bombs are a common cause of traumatic brain injury, with side effects ranging from headaches to problems relating to others. ... The report praised the VA's work to establish rehabilitation services for those with traumatic brain injury in the initial months or years after they are wounded. But it said that 'protocols to manage the lifetime effects of TBI are not in place and have not been studied for either military or civilian populations.' The report noted that some studies have found that 10-20 percent of veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have a traumatic brain injury, while others have found that such occurrences account for up to a third of all battlefield injuries" (Hefling, 3/31).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.