Nearly 1.8 million U.S. veterans lacked healthcare coverage in 2004, accounting for about 4.7% of all uninsured adults in the nation, according to a study to be published in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health. An additional 3.8 million members of veterans households were also uninsured, meaning that veterans or those from their households make up 12.2% of Americas uninsured population. Data were taken from two federally conducted national surveysthe Current Population Survey for the years 1988 to 2005 and the National Health Interview Survey from 2002 to 2004. Like other uninsured adults, most uninsured veterans are low- to middle-income workers who may be too poor to afford private coverage but are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or free VA care, the authors said.
Separately, another study in the journal reported that male veterans are three times more likely than female veterans to commit suicide, and whites have a much higher rate of suicide compared with patients other races. Of the 807,694 veterans who met the studys criteria, 1,683, or 0.21%, committed suicide during the study period of April 1999 to September 2004, and increased suicide risks were observed among male, younger and non-Hispanic whites. As a group, veterans may be at particularly high risk for suicide as a result of their high prevalence of depressive disorders and comorbid psychiatric conditions, the studys authors noted. -- by Jessica Zigmond