VA Health Care:

How Distance From VA Facilities Affects Veterans' Use of VA Services

HEHS-96-31: Published: Dec 20, 1995. Publicly Released: Dec 20, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on veterans' use of Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) health care facilities, focusing on: (1) the percentage of veterans living within certain distances of a VA facility; (2) whether distance affected veterans' use of VA facilities; and (3) whether veterans receiving VA disability compensation or pensions are less sensitive to distance from a VA facility than other veterans.

GAO found that: (1) although most veterans live within 25 miles of a VA facility, veterans living within 5 miles of a facility are much more likely to use VA health services; (2) about 11 percent of veterans live within 5 miles of a VA hospital and 17 percent live within 5 miles of a VA outpatient clinic; (3) veterans receiving VA compensation or pension payments are less sensitive to distance from a VA facility than veterans with nonservice-connected disabilities; (4) veterans with service-connected disabilities living more than 100 miles from a VA outpatient clinic are more likely to use VA outpatient services than veterans living within 5 miles of a VA clinic; and (5) differences in the use of VA services are affected by factors such as veterans' eligibility for outpatient care, veterans' ages, and available resources.

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