Lack of health coverage among US veterans from 1987 to 2004

Am J Public Health. 2007 Dec;97(12):2199-203. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.106302. Epub 2007 Oct 30.


Objectives: Veterans Administration health care enrollment is restricted to veterans with service-connected problems and those who are poor. We sought to determine how many veterans were uninsured, trends in veterans' coverage, and whether uninsured veterans lacked access to medical care.

Methods: We analyzed annual data from 2 federal surveys, the Current Population Survey for the years 1988 to 2005 and the National Health Interview Survey for 2002 to 2004.

Results: Nearly 1.8 million veterans were uninsured and not receiving Veterans Administration care in 2004. The proportion of working-age veterans lacking coverage peaked in 1993 at 14.2%, fell to 9.9% in 2000, and rose steadily to 12.7% in 2004. Uninsured veterans had substantial access problems; 51.4% had no usual source of care (vs 8.9% of insured veterans), and 26.5% reported failing to get needed care because of the cost (vs 4.3% of insured veterans).

Conclusions: Many US veterans are uninsured and lack adequate access to health care. Expanded funding for veterans' care is urgently needed; only national health insurance could guarantee coverage to both veterans and their family members.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / trends
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medically Uninsured / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • United States
  • Veterans* / statistics & numerical data