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Women Veterans are a Growing Cohort in the VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) executes a crucial mission to deliver high quality health care to all our nation’s veterans, which is rapidly including the ever-growing population of women veterans. As the fastest growing cohort of veterans, it is estimated women veterans make up 30% of new VA patients. As the profile of a veterans served by the VA evolves, pharmaceutical manufacturers should consider how to tailor their messaging to meet this expanding opportunity.   

Through their assigned VA Medical Center (VAMC), women veterans can access comprehensive healthcare services. Along with routine primary care check-ups and cancer screenings, women veterans can also access women-focused specialty care such as gynecology and even obstetrics! The specialty care offered through the VA, including mental health services and cancer treatment, is one of the most common reasons women veterans choose to access their VA healthcare benefits.

Women veterans want to receive their specialty healthcare from the VA for a number of reasons including that VA healthcare can be less expensive than the private, commercial marketplace. An individual’s upfront or out-of-pocket costs are often a factor in healthcare decision making. Prescription drug co-pays, in particular, are greatly reduced in the VA health system. Moreover, VA facilities are located throughout the country, which makes accessing care or refilling prescriptions convenient.

Chronic conditions, specifically, are a focus in veteran women’s healthcare. Veteran women are more likely than non-veteran women to experience chronic conditions such as diabetes and musculoskeletal diseases. They are also more likely than non-veteran women to suffer from the impacts of toxic environmental exposures due to their time in service. It is through the local VAMC that they can find community support from individuals, particularly other women, that have similar experiences. The intangible benefit of finding others to connect with is yet another benefit of receiving services through the VA rather than an alternative care setting.  

Pharmaceutical manufacturers must expand their understanding of the patient profile in the VA. Avoiding stereotypical portrayals of women veterans and acknowledging the diversity both in age and background is key to executing the right type of strategy for this market.


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