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Veterans Health Administration Healthcare Coverage and Medical Financial Hardship in Low-Income Veterans.

Govier DJ, Than CT, Chawla N, Mulcahy AC, Hoggatt KJ, Yano EM, Hynes DM. Veterans Health Administration Healthcare Coverage and Medical Financial Hardship in Low-Income Veterans. American journal of preventive medicine. 2023 Sep 1; 65(3):406-416.

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INTRODUCTION: The Veterans Health Administration (VA) provides low- to no-cost care to enrolled veterans with low incomes. This study assessed the associations between VA coverage and medical financial hardship among U.S. veterans with low incomes. METHODS: Using 2015-2018 National Health Interview Survey data, veterans aged = 18 years with incomes < 200% of the Federal Poverty Level were identified (crude n = 2,468, weighted n = 3,872,252). Four types of medical financial hardship were assessed: objective, and subjective material, psychologic, and behavioral medical financial hardship. Survey-weighted proportions of veterans with medical financial hardship were calculated, and adjusted probabilities of medical financial hardship that accounted for Veteran characteristics, year-fixed effects, and survey sampling design were estimated. Analyses were conducted from August through December 2022. RESULTS: Overall, 34.5% of veterans with low incomes had VA coverage. Among veterans without VA coverage, 38.7% had Medicare insurance, 18.2% had Medicaid insurance, 16.5% had private insurance, 13.5% had other public insurance, and 13.1% were uninsured. In adjusted analyses, veterans with VA coverage had lower probabilities of objective (-8.13 percentage point, p = 0.008), subjective material (-6.55 percentage point, p = 0.034), subjective psychologic (-10.33 percentage point, p = 0.003), and subjective behavioral (-6.72 percentage point, p = 0.031) medical financial hardship than veterans with Medicare and no VA coverage. CONCLUSIONS: VA coverage was associated with protection against four types of medical financial hardship among veterans with low incomes, yet many are not enrolled. Research is needed to understand reasons these veterans lack VA coverage and to identify strategies to address medical financial hardship.

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