Dust Off: 'Obamacare’s' impact on veterans health care
Dr. Dana Matthews, a member of the Treasure Coast community. This story
is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with this site.
Originally published 03:01 p.m., October 28, 2013
Updated 03:01 p.m., October 28, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE — President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
into law on March 23, 2010. The intent of its passage is to expand
access to health-care coverage, control health-care costs, and improve
America’s health-care delivery system. Under provisions of the ACA’s
"individual mandate," all Americans are required to purchase medical
insurance by Jan. 1. Now we discover that the “Obamacare" website is
defunct, and for most veterans that’s the least of our concerns with the
act. Indeed, most veterans define the ACA as the “American Confusion
So, just how does the ACA impact veterans is the question. The answer is
the Affordable Care Act will not directly impact VA health care system
nor will it affect TRICARE or TRICARE for Life beneficiaries (military
active duty personnel, retirees and their dependents). Veterans eligible
for VA health care will remain eligible under health reform; nothing in
the proposed legislation will affect veterans’ access to the care that
they currently are receiving. The legislation makes clear that the
Department of Veterans Affairs will retain full authority over the VA
health care system.
However, the devil is always in the details. A report authored by
Jennifer M. Haley and Genevieve M. Kenney for the Urban Institute says
that some 1.3 million veterans under the age of 65 are uninsured. It is
this population that needs to be better informed about their health care
options: which ones to chose and how to exercise them. “It is important
that the VA is prepared and communicates with veterans," says
Congressman Mike Michaud of Maine, the ranking Democrat on the House of
Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Additionally, the VA specifically needs to be prepared for a projected
increase in enrollment come 2014. The VA says that it is well prepared,
and that out of the 1.3 million uninsured veterans the net increase
should only yield about 66,000 healthier and younger veterans. This
according to the VA statistical forecasters and analysts, will not
negatively impact the Veteran Healthcare Administration. We shall see.
Backlogs, administrative hoops and access have always been key issues to
By now most of us are aware that under the ACA, most individuals will be
required to have minimum essential health-care coverage for themselves
and their dependents. If people do not have the minimum coverage, they
will have to make a payment when filing taxes for each month they lack
coverage. This payment will either be a flat fee or a percentage of
taxable household income.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care meets the law’s
standard for coverage. Therefore, veterans already enrolled in VA health
care would not be eligible for assistance in lowering the cost of their
health insurance premiums, if they were to purchase additional
health-care coverage outside of VA.
In short, for the 1.3 million uninsured veterans out there signing up
for VA healthcare renders them compliant with the ACA. If you are
enrolled in the VA you have credible coverage, The VA contends that
enrollment is easy. We shall see.
Veterans may still purchase private health insurance, on or off the
marketplace, to complement their VA coverage. Everything still clear as
For more information, contact the VA at 877-222-8387 or find them online
Dr. Dana Matthews is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Ranger and a
veterans health care consultant
This story is contributed by a member of the community and is neither
endorsed nor affiliated with TCPalm.
This story is contributed by a member of the Treasure Coast community
and is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with this site.