Almost 1.7 million veterans under age 65, or 11.9% of that population, were uninsured in 2003 and did not receive ongoing care at Veterans Administration hospitals -- up from 9.9% in 2000, according to an analysis of government surveys by researchers at Harvard Medical School and liberal advocacy group Public Citizen. The study was released by Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates providing coverage for all Americans under a single national healthcare system. The VA did not respond to a request for comment.
Many veterans did not receive care because of a 2003 order by President Bush that halted enrollment of middle-income veterans without service-related disabilities, according to the groups' report. Others were put off by long waiting lists, high copayments and a lack of VA facilities in their communities. Some 42.1% of the uninsured veterans said they had not seen a doctor in the past year, while 26.1% and 29% said they failed to get or delayed needed care, respectively, because of costs. Some 3.9 million members of veterans' households also were uninsured and ineligible for VA care. Read the report. -- by Tony Fong