VA Health Care:

Veterans' Efforts to Obtain Outpatient Care From Alternative Sources

HRD-93-123: Published: Jul 14, 1993. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed veterans' efforts to obtain outpatient care from alternative sources when the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) could not provide medical services due to a lack of resources or the veterans' ineligibility.

GAO found that: (1) of the 198 veterans who were turned away from VA medical centers, 149 obtained medical care from other sources; (2) 76 percent of the veterans that received care from alternative sources had health insurance; (3) the veterans' medical needs included additional diagnostic evaluation, treatment for diagnosed conditions, and medication for chronic conditions; (4) some of the veterans who returned to VA medical centers received care because of differing interpretations of eligibility criteria, the centers' resources improved, or the veterans' conditions deteriorated to the point that they became eligible for outpatient care; (5) some veterans were accepted by a medical center after being turned away from a different medical center; (6) 30 of the veterans surveyed did not obtain medical care after being turned away by a VA medical center due to financial and other reasons; and (7) about 40 percent of the veterans who did not seek further medical care had health insurance.

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