Of the 47 million uninsured Americans, one in every eight or 12.2 percent is a veteran or member of a veteranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s household, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers published in the December 2007 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
1.8 million veterans or 12.7 percent of non-elderly veterans were uninsured in 2004, up 290,000 since 2000, the study found. An additional 3.8 million members of their households were also uninsured and ineligible for VA care.
Veterans were only classified as uninsured if they neither had health insurance nor received ongoing care at Veterans Health Administration hospitals or clinics.
Other findings of the study include:
- The number of uninsured veterans has increased by 290,000 since 2000, when 9.9 percent of non-elderly veterans were uninsured, a figure which rose to 12.7 percent in 2004.
- Of the 1.768 million uninsured, 645,628 were Vietnam-era veterans while 1,105,891 were veterans who served during other eras including the Iraq and Gulf Wars.
- Of uninsured veterans, 56.5 percent were older than 44.
- Uninsured veterans had as much trouble getting medical care as other uninsured persons. More than 26 percent of uninsured veterans reported that they had failed to get needed care due to costs; 31.2 percent had delayed care due to costs; 49 percent had not seen a doctor within the past year; and two-thirds failed to receive preventive care.
- Nearly two-thirds of uninsured veterans were employed.
- The report states that many uninsured veterans are barred from VA care because of a 2003 Bush Administration order that halted enrollment of most middle income veterans. Others are unable to obtain VA care due to waiting lists at some VA facilities, unaffordable co-payments for VA specialty care, or the lack of VA facilities in their communities.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Since President Bush took office the number of uninsured vets has skyrocketed, and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cut eligibility, barring hundreds of thousands of veterans from care,” said Dr. David Himmelstein, co-author of the study and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program. “This administration has put troops in harmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s way overseas and abandoned them and their families once they got home.Ã¢â‚¬?