Affordable Care Act’s Effect on VA Health Care & Tricare

Updated: March 26, 2021
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    The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) does not affect VA health benefits or Tricare beneficiaries.

    VA Health Care Recipients

    Veterans and other VA health care recipients can continue to enjoy the benefits without any changes to health benefits including out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, VA health care enrollees do not need to take any additional steps to meet the health care law coverage standards which defined as health coverage that meets a minimum standard (called “minimum essential coverage”) by Jan. 1, 2014.

    “VA encourages eligible veterans who are not enrolled in VA’s health care system to take advantage of the world-class care we provide to the men and women who have served this nation in uniform,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said.

    If you are not enrolled you can apply at

    Tricare Beneficiaries

    Affordable Care Act Tricare

    Photo by Mark Wyatt

    Tricare beneficiaries using the following plans all have the minimum essential coverage required by the health care reform law.

    • TRICARE Prime
    • TRICARE Prime Remote
    • TRICARE Prime Overseas
    • TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas
    • TRICARE Standard and Extra
    • TRICARE Standard Overseas
    • TRICARE For Life
    • TRICARE Reserve Select (if purchased)
    • TRICARE Retired Reserve (if purchased)
    • TRICARE Young Adult (if purchased)
    • US Family Health Plan

    Two notable exceptions are that if you’re only eligible for care at military hospitals and clinics or getting care for line of duty only conditions, and you’re not covered by any other TRICARE plan (as listed above), you don’t have minimum essential coverage.

    Unfortunately any veterans that are not covered by these plans face the possibility of having their existing plans cancelled. There are also approximately 1.3 million veterans under the age of 65 who are uninsured and 2.62 million veterans and family members combined according to Jennifer M. Haley and Genevieve M. Kenney of the Urban Institute. Some will be eligible to apply for VA Health Care but most will not.


    Written by Team