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Recent Paper Examines Veterans' Dual System Usage Rates

December 14, 2012

A recently published article in Medicare & Medicaid Research Review, "Service Utilization of Veterans Dually Eligible for VA and Medicare Fee-For-Service: 1999-2004," discussed findings from an HSR&D study that examined the choice of healthcare system, as well as healthcare usage patterns, for Veterans who were dually-eligible for VA and Medicare following changes in VA eligibility. In 1996, the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act (HCERA) opened up eligibility for VA healthcare services to a larger population of Veterans than was previously served. Following HCERA implementation, any Veteran could apply for VA healthcare, and then were assigned to priority groups to determine eligibility and cost-sharing. However, while the cost of VA healthcare for some Veterans might be less, the distance to a VA healthcare facility might be longer than to a Medicare option.

Study results showed that Veterans newly eligible for VA healthcare services, particularly those with the highest health risk scores, had greater odds of dual system use compared to Veterans that were eligible for VA healthcare earlier. Findings also showed that Veterans in high VA priority groups had decreasing odds of relying exclusively on VA healthcare, as well as decreasing odds of relying exclusively on Medicare, indicating increasing odds of dual use. Authors noted that providers should ensure coordination of care for Veterans who may be receiving care from multiple sources.

The journal, Medicare & Medicaid Research Review, is published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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