Cost of veterans' health care could grow by 75%

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 18, 2010

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More veterans and higher care costs in the next 10 years will result in billions of dollars more being spent on veterans' health care in the next decade, states a Congressional Budget Office estimate released Oct. 7.

Veterans Health Administration care costs will increase to between $69 billion and $85 billion by 2020, up from $48 billion in 2010. The number of veterans eligible for VA care -- now at 8 million -- is expected to grow by between 700,000 and 1.3 million veterans by 2020. The wide gap in the CBO estimates is due to different assumptions about several factors: the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; the speed at which per-enrollee spending will grow; and the degree to which the VA relaxes enrollment restrictions. The lower forecast assumes that combined troop levels in both wars will decrease to 30,000 in 2013 and remain there until 2020, and that per-enrollee health care spending increases by 5% annually, about the same rate as in the rest of the U.S. health system.

The VA provides care to veterans at a level determined by veterans' military service. However, the VA also adjusts the care provided based on its annual congressional appropriations. VA spending increased by more than 9% on average each year between 2004 and 2009, reaching $44 billion, in 2009. The report is available online (link).

Note: This item originally appeared at

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