This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. It is a time to celebrate the service of current and former members of the military. Although military veterans garner a lot of attention around Memorial Day, some veterans are not having their needs met the rest of the year.
“About 10 percent of U.S. veterans under the age of 65 lack health insurance and are not being cared for by the Veterans Affairs Department, either, according to a study published on Thursday.
The study estimated that 1.3 million veterans and nearly 950,000 members of their families lack health insurance. These uninsured military families account for 4.8 percent of the 47.3 million uninsured Americans, the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported.”
The share of veterans without health insurance varies widely across states. According to the study,
“Just four states have uninsurance rates below six percent—Massachusetts, Hawaii,Vermont and North Dakota. Meanwhile,four states—Louisiana,Oregon,Idaho, and Montana—have uninsurance rates above 14 percent.”
But doesn’t the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provide health insurance to all veterans?
It is true that the VA is “the nation’s largest health system and provides health care for many veterans through a system of medical centers, clinics, and other facilities…However, some veterans do not use VA health care services. Eligibility is based on veteran status, service-related disabilities, income level, and other factors, and even within the groups eligible for VA care, other factors, such as their proximity to VA facilities and the cost-sharing requirements, may affect the likelihood
that they seek care in the VA system.”
- Haley J and Kenney GM. Uninsured Veterans and Family Members: Who Are They and Where Do They Live? Urban Institute, May 2012.