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Nearly 40 percent of veterans reported concerns about being able to pay medical bills

Brett Rowland

(The Center Square) – A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics found that nearly 40 percent of veterans reported concerns about being able to pay their medical bills. 

Overall, the report found that 12.8 percent of veterans aged 25-64 had problems paying medical bills, 8.4 percent had forgone medical care and 38.4 percent were somewhat or very worried about being able to pay their medical bills if they got sick or had an accident. 

However, the study by Robin Cohen and Peter Boersma, found that veterans aged 25-64 with United States Department of Veterans Affairs health care only and veterans with Tricare "reported similar or decreased financial burden of care" than veterans with private insurance, with or without Veterans Affairs health care. Tricare is a Department of Defense health care program for uniformed service members, retirees and their families. 

Many veterans rely on private insurance. Nearly 40 percent of veterans have private insurance without Veterans Affairs health care, according to the report. Another 17.9 percent of veterans have private insurance with Veterans Affairs health care. 

"Despite the increasing reliance on Tricare and Veterans Affairs health care among veterans, little data exists on the financial burden of medical care among veterans with Veterans Affairs health care or Tricare relative to veterans with either private insurance or other public coverage," according to the report.

"After adjustment for race and Hispanic origin, family income, employment status, health status, and disability status, most measures of financial burden improved for veterans who relied only on Veterans Affairs for their health care," according to the report. "Veterans covered by Veterans Affairs health care only were less likely than those with private insurance either with or without Veterans Affairs health care to have problems paying medical bills or any worry about paying medical bills."