Delays in Seeking Health Care: Comparison of Veterans and the General Population

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Abstract

Objectives:

Recent reports of delays in receiving care among U.S. Veterans have received national attention. Such delays may have an effect on veterans' propensity to seek healthcare as well, which could be detrimental to their health. There exists no evidence at the national level of the magnitude of perceived care delay in the Veterans Affairs (VA) system and how it compares to populations with other types of insurance coverage in the U.S.

Study Design and Methods:

This cross-sectional study analyzed a recent nationally representative survey database (n = 10,907). Descriptive and multivariate regression analyses were performed to determine how care delay for veterans compares with the general population.

Results:

We found that 17.2% of Americans delayed seeking needed healthcare in 2010-2011, but the figure was 29% for veterans. Also, there was a significant association of care delay with VA health care coverage after adjusting for other personal factors and region of the country.

Conclusions:

Study results suggest a possible link between VA access problems and veterans' behavior in seeking needed healthcare, which may be creating disparities in the effectiveness of care for this vulnerable and deserving population. Our study provides evidence of self-reported care delay among veterans. More studies are necessary to further understand factors in relation to delaying seeking care among veterans.

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