Each year, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) publishes its Survey of Veteran Enrollees’ Health and Use of Health Care report. This survey collects information on tens of thousands of veterans enrolled in the VA system, and the information gathered is used to guide the VA’s and VHA’s spending decisions throughout the year.
Below, we’ll share some veteran healthcare statistics from the 2021 survey, the most recent version published. These statistics provide insight into the current veteran healthcare landscape and can help us determine how to improve healthcare for vets moving forward.
Veteran healthcare statistics
Here are some important veteran healthcare statistics from the most recent Survey of Veteran Enrollees’ Health and Use of Health Care report, published by the VHA:
- 19.7% of VA enrollees have no public or private insurance coverage — 27.5% of these enrollees have an annual income less than $35,000. This could mean that some enrollees are unable to afford prescriptions, services, and procedures not covered by VA insurance or not offered at their local VA facility.
- 73.8% of enrollees report being in “good” to “excellent” health while 25.5% report being in “fair” or “poor” health — Enrollees with an annual income less than $35,000 reported being in “fair” to “poor” health much more frequently than those earning higher incomes.
- 34% of enrollees report having some level of disability that prevents them from living independently — 14.2% are unable to perform some or all necessary self-care tasks while others are inhibited from performing “some tasks necessary for independent functioning as a member of a community.”
- 77.7% to 89.4% of surveyed enrollees are happy about their experiences with scheduling appointments, facility access, and interactions with staff at VA facilities and community care programs — However, patients treated at community care facilities reported slightly higher rates of satisfaction than those treated at VA facilities.
- 50.4% of enrollees say they used non-VA services for healthcare — 67% of these enrollees cited “easier access to care” as their reason for seeking outside healthcare.
- More than 80% of enrollees express a willingness to use telehealth to access health records and test results or to fill out forms, schedule appointments, and refill prescriptions — Less than 50% of enrollees report a willingness to use telehealth for online support groups.
What can we learn from these veteran healthcare statistics?
The veteran healthcare statistics presented above represent only a tiny portion of the information available in the VHA’s report. However, we can still glean some useful information from them.
- Expansion of the VA’s community care network is critical — With many enrollees having no public or private insurance, their access to care is limited. We must ensure that the 4 million veterans who live in rural communities get the healthcare they need.
- Recruitment of non-VA healthcare providers can help, too — The VA is always looking for physicians and specialists to join its community care network. Strategic recruitment of these providers is one way to bring healthcare to veterans living in remote areas. It’s also a way to offer specialty services to veterans with limited access to those services.
- Expanded use of telehealthcare services — With most veterans showing a willingness to use the internet for at least some aspects of their care, it should be implemented and expanded in every VA facility and community care center. This will bring expanded care and more convenient services to those veterans who use them.
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