Brief Uninsured Veterans in the US
Greater Expansion and Take-Up of Medicaid and Marketplace Coverage Has the Potential for Coverage Gains
Jessica Banthin, Jennifer M. Haley, Michael Simpson
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Given their military service on behalf of our country, assuring access to health insurance coverage for veterans is a priority. Yet, prior research has found that uninsurance among veterans remains a problem. Although many veterans get coverage through the Veterans Health Administration (VA), eligibility is restricted to certain priority groups, such as those with service-connected disabilities or low incomes. Further, even for those who are eligible, not being enrolled or being too far from VA facilities and clinics can make use of their services infeasible.

In this brief, we provide an updated analysis to identify the sources of coverage for nonelderly veterans in the US in 2024 and estimate what share of veterans would be uninsured.

Why this matters

Since the VA does not cover all veterans, other sources of subsidized coverage, including Medicaid and Marketplace plans, play an important role in providing coverage to veterans. We also estimate how many uninsured veterans will likely be eligible for Medicaid or qualify for subsidized Marketplace coverage yet remain uninsured in 2024 and how many could become eligible for Medicaid if their state expands.

What we found

Our main findings are as follows:

  • In 2024, we project that about 5 percent of nonelderly veterans will be uninsured. More than half (about 57 percent) of veterans receive coverage through an employer, while 22.0 percent count VA coverage as their primary source of insurance. Another 9.4 percent are enrolled in Medicaid, and 5.4 percent purchase Marketplace coverage with premium tax credits.
  • In 2024, we estimate that nearly half of uninsured veterans would be eligible for Medicaid or subsidized Marketplace coverage, while 1 in 10 would fall into the “coverage gap” (having incomes that would qualify them for Medicaid if their state were to adopt expansion but ineligible for both Medicaid and Marketplace subsidies).
  • As of 2021, we find that slightly more than half of uninsured veterans lived in nonexpansion states, and four in five uninsured veterans had incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).

Policies to increase enrollment among veterans who are eligible for Medicaid or Marketplace coverage but are uninsured, maximize the use of VA services for those who may qualify, and remove the coverage gap would likely improve coverage and access to care for veterans who have served.

Research Areas Health and health care
Tags Affordable Care Act Health insurance Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program  Veterans
Policy Centers Health Policy Center
Research Methods Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model (HIPSM)
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