A study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows VA significantly reduced wait times for Veteran patients in primary care and three specialty care services between 2014 and 2017.

The study, titled “Comparison of Wait Times for New Patients Between the Private Sector and United States Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers,” compared wait times between VA and private-sector clinicians in 15 major metropolitan areas for appointments in primary care, dermatology, cardiology and orthopedics.

For all specialties except orthopedics, VA wait times were similar to private-sector wait times in 2014, and were shorter in 2017.

“Since 2014, VA has made a concerted, transparent effort to improve access to care,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “This study affirms that VA has made notable progress in improving access in primary care, and other key specialty care areas.

“This progress represents another reason Veterans Choose VA for their health care, following on a recent Dartmouth study that found VA medical centers ‘outperform private hospitals in most health care markets throughout the country,’ and the Partnership for Public Service ranking VA as one of the top 6 Best Places to Work in the federal government.”

According to the JAMA study, average wait time in 2014 for a VA appointment in one of these specialties was 22.5 days, compared with 18.7 days for private-sector physicians. In 2017, the average VA wait time was 17.7 days, while the private-sector average was 29.8 days. That translates to a shorter average wait time of 12 days in VA, compared with the private sector.

Primary care, dermatology and cardiology wait times were all shorter than in the private sector in 2017. While orthopedic wait times were longer for VA in both 2014 and 2017, they did decrease during the study period. According to the study, the number of patients seen yearly in VA increased slightly between 2014 and 2017, to around 5.1 million. VA patient satisfaction has also risen, according to patient surveys cited in the study.

For more information about VA access to health care, visit www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/.

Share this story

Published on Jan. 18, 2019

Estimated reading time is 1.6 min.

Views to date: 288


  1. Norm Lewis February 4, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    I’m a Vietnam combat vet, service connected. I was referred by VA ER Doctor Fresno, CA back to my Primary care doctor for the following care to have a recommend MRI. Dealing with spine damage. The first appointment that my Primary care doctor would be happy with is a month away. This is a problem. I have been asking for help with for years. As I have become less and less mobile, speech, balance. and teeth. It seems the word is; the VAs cost-cutting is true. It’s cheaper to dig a hole, then pay a Doctor

  2. Frank January 26, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Sure, their times have gotten better. When you falsify documents. Dermatology, got their 20 minutes early for 9:30 appointment. Called me a 9:55. Was finished at 10:20. Went to front desk to make a followup appointment. Was handed the sheet and saw that they recorded the Dr seeing me at 9:30 and finished at 9:55. I walked around to Patient Advocate and told them this and nothing happened.So, when you falsify times you will put out reports that your time for patients waiting has significantly improved. So wrong!

    • dbjr January 30, 2019 at 3:32 pm

      This is not entirely true. As of today I have an appointment with Frank Tejeda Clinic that was scheduled since Jan 2018 for Feb 1 2019. I have another appointment with the eye clinic that called me in November 2018 saying that my appointment had been scheduled in Feb of 2019. I also requested meds two weeks ago all were refilled but one, because I need to sign a statement promising not to abuse it, which I have not. Personally i think they are playing CYA, with me and the system. As for the meds, I think they really don’t, work that good. My dentist and the Dental clinic that is another story, He, (Dentist) likes to pull teeth, 4-5 at a time.

  3. shipdog7 January 25, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    My appointment to see my Primary care doctor was over two months. I was notified to make an appointment for blood work for future medications. The appointment was Dec 5th 2018. It was then moved to a week later on the 12th. Doctors request. VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

  4. Tom Rivet January 25, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Perhaps due to things like “… 15 major metropolitan areas … ” and more, your “wait time” for care are off-putting and misleading. I too, I am sure, could peruse the data and find 15 major metropolitan areas that would help the data you want to present, but it is still WAY OFF for people in New York State, where I live in a far northern location, plus Albany, NYC, and several other areas where the wait times are more like waiting for them to die first areas! Hell, here where I live there isn’t even a rep anymore! There was one, located in a middle school building once that I talked to, but he was no help to me and we seem not to be without any representation at all. I tried another location once, and was told to go back to my own location’s rep; lotta good that did!

  5. Darrell Lee January 22, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    It took me 27 years to get to a Spinal Care Unit and they wouldn’t diagnose the problem generativity only offer dubious operation patch with the low percentage rates of success I eat operation L4 L5 as an explanation why the left hand is numb.

    Retired young then through to the side like a Bic lighter. If you don’t fit the cookie cutter picture you will be biased out of your care you will be neglected and you will be hated for telling them that

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • The PACT Act will help VA provide health care and benefits to millions of toxic-exposed Veterans and their survivors. Veterans have already begun to apply for the benefits.

  • VA has extended the presumptive period for qualifying chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed illnesses in Persian Gulf War Veterans.

  • VA announced today two major decisions related to presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange and particulate matter exposures during military service in Southwest Asia.