VA Health Care

Comparison of VA Benefits With Other Public and Private Programs Gao ID: HRD-93-94 July 29, 1993

Because of the growth of public and private health insurance programs, most veterans now have coverage under multiple health care programs. These programs differ, however, in terms of the criteria used to establish eligibility, the services covered, the limits placed on the availability of those services, and the cost sharing between the program and its participants. This report (1) compares the health care benefits available under major public and private programs and (2) analyzes the potential effects of existing benefit differences on veterans' use of the Department of Veterans Affairs' health care system.

GAO found that: (1) VA has a broader range of covered services than other health benefits programs, but no veteran is currently entitled to the full range of VA services; (2) VA offers some health-related services not generally covered by other programs and places fewer limits on the number and duration of benefits; (3) veterans with dual health care eligibility generally incur lower out-of-pocket costs if they obtain their care from VA; (4) the complex VA entitlement provisions could affect veterans with nonservice-connected disabilities that rely on VA for their health care; and (5) VA hospital care is generally free.

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