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Am J Manag Care. 2009 Oct;15(10):701-8.

VA pharmacy users: how they differ from other veterans.

Author information

  • 1VA Center for Medication Safety, Hines, IL, USA. sherrie.aspinall@va.gov



To compare users and nonusers of Veterans Affairs (VA) pharmacy services by age group.




We used data on sociodemographics, health status, and medical conditions from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to compare users and nonusers of VA pharmacies for medications. Data were pooled for 2003-2005 to ensure adequate sample sizes. Student t tests were used to compare the means for each variable, and all analyses were adjusted for the complex sample design of the MEPS.


Among both nonelderly (18-64 years) and elderly (>or=65 years) veterans, a higher proportion who used VA pharmacy services versus those who did not use VA pharmacy services (1) were black (nonelderly: 17.7 % vs 7.4%, P <.001; elderly: 9.4% vs 4.7%, P <.001); (2) had no alternative insurance (nonelderly: 27.2% vs 4.8%, P <.001; elderly: 36.3% vs 19.9%, P <.001); (3) had lower incomes (nonelderly: 32.4% vs 11.5%, P <.001; elderly: 32.4% vs 25.4%, P = .01); (4) had less than a high school education (nonelderly: 13.0% vs 6.5%, P <.001; elderly: 27.5% vs 17.6%, P <.001); (5) were disabled; and (6) reported poorer health. A higher percentage of nonelderly users reported a mental health condition (31.6% vs 19.4%, P <.001).


Veterans who use VA pharmacy services appear to be more ill than those who do not use VA pharmacy services. In addition, the VA appears to be a safety net for uninsured veterans who have mental health problems.

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