It’s GubMints MailBag time!
[2014 Update #2 - TriCares's webpage indicates that Veterans can choose between ObamaCare or TriCare. See my updated post regarding ObamaCare for more info]
[Note: This post has been updated 6/27/2013 based on reader feedback and further research. Edits are strikethroughs and italics.]
GubMints reader C.E. writes:
I was looking over the blog post you had about the California exchanges and the various veteran coverages. I think it’s really helpful… <edit> one of the things we’ve had trouble finding information on is how Obamacare affects veterans.
If a person is eligible for public coverage like Medicaid or Medicare, or has an offer of insurance from an employer, that person is ineligible for a subsidy on the Obamacare exchanges. The basic idea is that if you’re eligible for something else, we don’t want to give you a subsidy, get the something else.
What we can’t figure out is whether that rule applies to veterans, especially retired veterans with something approaching full coverage. If veterans eligibility counts like Medicare eligibility, it has the following consequences:
(1) The veteran would not have access to exchange subsidies. The veteran could pay full price, but would not be able to get a tax credit regardless of income level. In your chart, the retired reservist making $50k would have to buy the Tricare policy or pay full price for the Obamacare policy. That’s a big difference in cost. It’s perverse, but the availability of veteran’s insurance hurts the veteran.
(2) The large employer mandate penalty is only triggered when a full-time employee is not offered insurance AND the employee gets a subsidy. What this rule would allow would be for the employer to deny insurance offers to vets and the vet would then rely on the veteran coverage. I’m thinking that can’t be right, but with Obamacare who knows?
If you’ve seen anything in your research, it’d be helpful if you pass along a link. I might be missing something here, but I don’t think so.
Thanks for reading GubMints!
Seems like we’re all still finding out what’s in ObamaCare
I’ll answer your questions as best as I know- My specialty is benefits for Federal Employees (many of whom happen to be veterans) such as the Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB). I have cc’d an expert in military benefits and retirement- Doug Nordman. Doug runs “the-military-guide.com” website and its associated military benefits books.
1) VA coverage is initiated to any Honorably-discharged service member for a service-connected disability condition or active duty service during certain periods and locations. A service-connected disability is typically identified by a particular event or environment the vet worked in. Battle injury, disease from by exposure to a chemical, or degraded abilities from an identified occupational hazard are examples.
Note that VA provides coverage to vets only for the condition(s) specifically identified as disease or disability.
2) TriCare coverage is earned when a vet retires from a completed (20 year) career of service. Note that the Retirement can be earned with any combination of Active and Reserve/Guard duty.
As an example, I have a Federal Employee working for me who is Retired Enlisted (20+ years of Active Duty). He has VA coverage for a service-connected disability as well as his ‘conventional’ Tricare medical coverage he earned as an Active Duty Retirement benefit. He has turned down the FEHB benefit available to himself and his family because Tricare is a better deal for him.
A rundown of VA and Tricare coverage is given at the following links:
It’s not directly addressed if a vet can turn down Tricare and go on an ObamaCare Public Exchange. I think the VA benefit (which is provided at no cost to the Vet) is earned for life once VA eligibility is determined.
once a service-connected disability is identified.
Back to your question- Would a retired Vet be denied the SUBSIDIZED ObamaCare Public Exchange benefit if s/he is eligible for Tricare?
Answer is still, ”You are not only ineligible for Subsidized Obamacare, but you’re ineligible for ObamaCare altogether” “I dunno”. (Note that only a “Gray Area” Retired Guard/Reservist in her right mind would turn down Tricare Retired Reserve- You’d have to be criminally insane to turn down Tricare Standard if you’re Active Duty Retired). [See updated post RE: Veterans and ObamaCare eligibility]
If you look at the Federal Government’s Obamacare application form, Step 4, Question 1, page 6- It appears that if you check a box that says “I am eligible for FEHB or Tricare” then you are INELIGIBLE for Obamacare, much less subsidized Obamacare.
This would be is indeed a perverse twist - Any Joe Blow (including a convicted felon) can walk in off the street and be eligible for low-cost, Subsidized ObamaCare. However, a Veteran who has honorably served for a 20-year career would is NOT be eligible for subsidized ObamaCare.
…but we’ve already seen stranger things in ObamaCare now that “We’ve passed the bill so we can find out What’s in It”.
GubMints Readers, feel free to comment, and let me know if you have any amplifying info on this.
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