U.S. military service isn’t for everyone, but those who dedicate a portion of their lives to the defense of our country by joining the armed forces deserve to receive special benefits as a result. Like all other U.S. citizens, military veterans are required to meet minimum mandatory coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare.
However, the ACA was created to ensure that traditionally underserved groups would have access to affordable healthcare. As a result, veterans now have more options than ever when it comes to obtaining health insurance. Here’s what you need to know to receive the health care you’re eligible for and remain in compliance with ACA standards.
VA Health Care
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a health care program available for veterans. If you are not yet enrolled, then you can apply at any time. Coverage under VA health care programs qualifies for mandatory minimum standards under the ACA, so if you are enrolled in VA health care, you needn’t obtain additional coverage to avoid penalties.
In many cases you’ll face no out-of-pocket expense when you qualify for VA health care. You won’t have to pay enrollment fees, premiums, or deductibles. In some cases, you’ll be responsible for copays related to healthcare services of prescriptions.
In addition, there are plenty of healthcare facilities across the country that offer services for those covered by VA health care programs, so even if you don’t have access in your immediate area, you should be able to find a VA hospital or other facilities nearby. You’ll also be glad to hear that VA health care is compatible with a variety of other insurance options.
Whether you decide to enroll in Obamacare, you gain insurance through your employer following your military service, or you elect to purchase private coverage, you can continue to utilize VA health care services and it will not affect your benefits. VA health coverage also works with Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE.
The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA) is often confused with TRICARE as the two programs are similar, but CHAMPVA is administered under the Department of Veterans Affairs, while TRICARE is offered through the Department of Defense (DoD).
Veterans that choose CHAMPVA coverage will meet the mandatory minimum under Obamacare and enjoy a variety of benefits, as outlined in the CHAMPVA Program Guide. Many services and supplies are covered, including an open network of providers and meds by mail.
Although many types of insurance for veterans are compatible with other health insurance options, you cannot have both CHAMPVA and TRICARE. Active duty and retired service members (as well as family members) may be eligible for health insurance benefits under TRICARE. Like other plans for veterans, this one counts toward minimum mandatory coverage so that you need not enroll in other health insurance programs to meet standards under ACA rules.
Regardless of the VA health care program you’re enrolled in, it’s best not to cancel enrollment, even if you have access to other forms of health insurance through employment or other avenues. You can reapply at any time, but if eligibility factors change in the interim, your enrollment could be denied.