Under the new rules of the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are required to have some form of health insurance that meets the standards for minimum essential coverage. If they don’t have insurance coverage, then the must have proof of eligibility for an exemption from the law. If you don’t have either of these things, then you could be subject to a penalty payable at the time you pay your income tax.
With these new regulations in place you may have questions as to how these new changes might affect you and your current health coverage. It’s true that many adjustments have taken place and the insurance policies of millions have been affected in significant ways.
However, insurance benefits for veterans have remained mostly unchanged. In fact, the Affordable Care Act has had no dramatic impact on health benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the new mandates have not changed the out of pocket costs for veterans, either.
Minimum Essential Coverage
This is the term used in the Affordable Care Act to define the standard for basic health insurance coverage that qualifies under the new law. These typically include plans that have been purchased directly from an insurance provider, through the Healthcare marketplace of each state, student health plans, Medicare Part A, Medicaid, TRICARE, or plans issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Therefore, any veteran who currently has coverage through the VA is fully covered under the definition of minimum essential coverage as per the law. No further action is needed. Simply put, Obamacare does not affect VA benefits in any significant way.
If you have enrolled in one of the following plans through the VA, then you are sufficiently covered and you will not be subject to a penalty during tax season. This includes any standard health care plan issued to veterans, plans under the Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA) issued to spouses or children of military service members, plans under TRICARE for active-duty military and their family members, and the VA Spina Bifida Healthcare Program issued to children of service members dealing with spina bifida. In addition, the out of pocket costs that are associated with these plans also remain unchanged.
Enrolling for Healthcare
Those veterans who are not currently enrolled in a VA health care plan may do so at any time. For those who would want to enroll in a healthcare program outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs, they must wait until an open enrollment period begins or have proof that they are eligible for a “qualifying event” during which you may enroll in healthcare outside of the standard open enrollment period.
These qualifying events can range from losing your current healthcare plan involuntary, getting married or divorced, becoming or gaining a dependent, among others. As of January 31, 2016, open enrollment has closed and will reopen again on November 1, 2016.
Coverage for Family Members of Veterans
The plans above that pertain to family members are sufficient to qualify for the new Obamacare mandates. Any family members that don’t have health insurance can use the health insurance Marketplace to find coverage options and are subject to open enrollment and/or qualifying events eligibility.