The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), operates the nation’s largest integrated direct health care delivery system, provides care to approximately 6.6 million unique veteran patients, and employs more than 287,000 full-time equivalent employees. While Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are also publicly funded programs, most health care services under these programs are delivered by private providers in private facilities. In contrast, the VA health care system could be categorized as a veteran-specific national health care system, in the sense that the federal government owns the medical facilities, employs the health care providers, and directly provides the majority of health care services to veterans.
It should be noted that VA health care is not a health insurance plan similar to what many individuals or employers purchase in the private health insurance market and does not have the same health insurance plan characteristics, such as coinsurances, deductibles, and premiums.
This report provides responses to frequently asked questions about health care provided to veterans through the VHA. It is intended to serve as a quick reference to provide easy access to information. Where applicable, it provides the legislative background pertaining to the question.