VA Health Care:

Veterans' Demand for Outpatient Care

HRD-89-70: Published: May 31, 1989. Publicly Released: May 31, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO assessed the demand of category A veterans for outpatient medical care at Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) clinics, focusing on how: (1) many veterans could have been classified as category A in 1986; (2) many of the total visits to VA clinics category A veterans made in 1986; and (3) the estimated usage rate of category A veterans with service-connected disabilities compared to the rate for category A veterans without such disabilities.

GAO found that: (1) category A veterans included those who had service-connected disabilities, special status, such as former prisoners of war, or incomes below a specified level; (2) 9.2 million veterans could have been classified as category A in 1986, including 3.7 million with service-connected disabilities and 5.1 with below-threshold-level incomes; (3) category A veterans made an estimated 16.6 million visits to VA clinics in 1986 and accounted for 97 percent of care provided in 1987; (4) category A veterans without service-connected disabilities made fewer visits than those with service-connected disabilities; and (5) usage factors included veterans' awareness of VA as a source of health care, VA giving service-connected-disability veterans higher priority, and service-connected veterans' eligibility to receive some care that other category A veterans could not.

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