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Story 3

TRICARE Answers Affordable Care Act Questions

Courtesy TRICARE

With the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, TRICARE beneficiaries may have questions about how it would affect them. The ACA and TRICARE are very different, governed by two different pieces of legislation so changes in one have no effect on the other.

The intent of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was to provide affordable health insurance options to everyone. This is the first major difference between TRICARE and the ACA. TRICARE is not health insurance; it is a federal health care entitlement program only for eligible uniformed service members, retirees and their families.

The ACA required a set of minimum essential benefits for commercial health insurance.  Before the passage of the ACA, TRICARE had already provided most of these benefits such as cost-free screenings, vaccinations and counseling. One ACA provision not previously addressed by TRICARE was to allow children to remain on their parent’s health insurance up to age 26. The 2011 National Defense Authorization Act created the authority to implement the TRICARE Young Adult (TYA) program. TYA is a premium-based program that restores TRICARE coverage to adult children up to the age of 26 after they lose their TRICARE coverage due to age. 

TRICARE is a benefit established under law as the health care program for the uniformed services, retirees and their families. The ACA did affect change in health care coverage for many Americans, but the legislation did not apply directly to TRICARE. For more information, visit the TRICARE website.