Veterans who use pharmacy services at VA facilities tend to be sicker, poorer, and have no alternative insurance

Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides health care and prescription drug coverage for veterans. Veterans who use VA pharmacy services tend to be more ill, poorer, and have no alternative insurance compared with veterans who do not use them, according to a new study. More than one-fourth (27.2 percent) of nonelderly veterans who use VA pharmacy services have no other insurance and 31.6 percent of them report a mental disorder. Taken together, these finding suggest that the VA may be a safety net for nonelderly veterans with mental health conditions, note Jessica Banthin, Ph.D., and G. Edward Miller, Ph.D., of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

They and coinvestigators used data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey on veteran status, health conditions, and demographic information. The study included 533 nonelderly veterans and 638 veterans aged 65 and older who used VA pharmacy services. The nonpharmacy user groups consisted of 1,555 nonelderly and 1,428 elderly veterans.

Veterans who used VA pharmacy services were more likely to be black, have no other insurance, and come from lower income and educational levels compared with nonusers. More users than nonusers also reported poor physical and mental health. Regardless of their age, veterans who used VA pharmacy services tended to report suffering from more medical conditions and were more likely to be disabled. Nonelderly users reported having diabetes, hypertension, and mental health problems; the latter being especially prevalent. Elderly users, on the other hand, were more likely to suffer from diabetes, peptic ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

See "VA pharmacy users: How they differ from other veterans," by Sherrie L. Aspinall, Pharm.D., Dr. Banthin, Chester B. Good, M.D., M.P.H., and others in the October 2009 The American Journal of Managed Care 15(10), pp. 701-708. Reprints (AHRQ Publication No.10-R017) are available from AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Current as of April 2010
Internet Citation: Veterans who use pharmacy services at VA facilities tend to be sicker, poorer, and have no alternative insurance: Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356. April 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr10/0410RA23.html