Like all other groups receiving health insurance through their job or a spouse’s employment, some military members and their families will see major changes due to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, while others will only be minimally impacted by healthcare reform. To begin with, it should be said that TRICARE will continue to provide health insurance coverage for both active and retired military members. In some cases, additional coverage will even be provided. Thanks to the expansion of TRICARE for Life, for example, military retirees and their spouses and/or dependents who qualify for Medicare Part B will now be covered by TRICARE for Life, and the policy will act as a supplement for Medicare Part A (provided you and your family members enroll in Medicare Parts A and B).
Unfortunately, certain policies offered under TRICARE prior to the passage of the ACA do not meet standards for minimum essential coverage, and military members carrying such policies will be forced to give up their old policies in order to avoid penalties for failing to meet minimum coverage requirements. The two types of insurance that don’t meet minimum standards are policies that only cover conditions related to the line of duty and those that cover only care received in military facilities (hospitals or clinics). Other than those enrolled in these policies, however, military members and their families should not have to change plans in order to be in compliance with Obamacare and avoid penalties.
Of course, it may be that some military members and their families will choose to change policies anyway due to adjustments to costs and fees associated with TRICARE. Although changes in costs and fees may or may not be associated with the implementation of Obamacare (they could also be attributable to a number of factors, such as the economy, inflation, and more), there is no getting around the fact that military members and their families will see cost increases over the coming years, mainly in the way of enrollment fees and deductibles.
The biggest change will be for those in the standard TRICARE program, which will feature enrollment fees for the first time, as well as incremental increases to deductibles through 2018. Other plans will also see cost increases. All TRICARE plans will see a bump in prescription costs, for example, in some cases causing members to pay as much as double what they did before for prescriptions. Again, this may not be directly related to Obamacare, or perhaps it is only partially related.
Naturally, many active and retired military members and their families will have questions, which is why a new agency was created to help individuals and families reconcile any issues related to changes to TRICARE plans. The Defense Health Agency should help military members and their families find the best and most affordable coverage through TRICARE. If all else fails, though, military members and their families may still be eligible to apply for health insurance coverage under Obamacare. Each individual or family will simply have to consider all options and decide on the most suitable course of action.
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