How many non-veterans use the VA health-care system?

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The number of non-veterans using the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health system has risen steadily in recent years, even outpacing the rate of growth for former troops, according to VA data.

Family members of veterans are eligible for VA health benefits under certain circumstances. For instance, the spouses of permanently disabled veterans and troops who died in service can use the system through the VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service this month released a fact sheet that shows VA health-network usage by veterans and non-veterans.


The Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix. (Samantha Sais/Reuters)

This type of information has become increasingly useful in the wake of the VA’s record-keeping scandal, as lawmakers draft legislation to help fix the problems and the agency tries to determine whether staffing levels are adequate.

The numbers could help the VA determine how many patients — and possibly which kind — it should send off for private care. Let’s take a look at what the data shows.

The graph below illustrates the rate of increase for veteran and non-veteran users. Notice how non-veteran usage has increased at a higher rate than veterans every year since 2008.

This next graph shows that non-veterans as a percentage of all users in the VA health system has increased every year since 2008. This year, non-veterans made up nearly 11 percent of all users.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to federalworker@washpost.com.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks · June 14