Can the government require veterans to carry private health insurance?
Military service members receive military health insurance as part of their benefits while on active duty, but many worry what will happen after they are separated from the military. What type of health care coverage you can receive will depend largely on how and why you are discharged from service. At this time the government cannot force you to buy private insurance.
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The reason you will have to look at your own status is because the term veteran can vary greatly in meaning depending on the benefits you are looking at. People commonly think this term means someone who was retired because they served a full 20+ years or because they were injured or disabled while at war. The term can also be applied to anyone who received an honorable discharge and served at least 180 days on active duty.
Do disabled veterans need private health insurance?
This is a common question due largely to a proposed plan by President Obama and the rumors that followed. In March 2009, the Obama Administration did propose a bill that would require disabled veterans have private health insurance to help cover a portion of their medical care. This bill was highly opposed and Obama was quoted as saying that he felt if people volunteered for the military they knew the risks.
FactCheck.org published an investigation into the report and stated that the president did float the idea to several veterans groups because it would save $540 million a year but there was never a bill. There was also no proof of his derogatory statements. He also dropped the plan after the veterans groups strongly protested the idea.
Disabled veterans receive care through the Veterans Administration. They can receive care for not only their injuries but preventive care, mental health, and any other medical conditions they may develop. They can also get care for their family if qualified.
What is available for retired military?
When you retire from the military, looking for private health insurance may be scary. Most retirees are nowhere near Medicare age and have probably never shopped for private insurance. Tricare is still there for you and your family in most cases.
Tricare for retired service members works almost identical to what you had on active duty.
You have your choice of three plans, standard, prime, and extra. The plan you choose will determine what doctors you can see and what you will pay for treatments.
The big difference is you will need to pay an annual enrollment fee. This fee is $260 for individuals and $520 for families. Enrollment in Tricare is not automatic every year you will have to re-enroll.
Retirees can also purchase a dental health insurance plan. Another plan available is young adult, which fills the gap between the Tricare cut off age and the new Affordable Care Act. Because Tricare does not fall under the new policy they created a policy to allow parents to offer their kids the same coverage.
Tricare also has Tricare for Life which works with Medicare A and B to minimize your costs. They will pay any amount not covered by Medicare on services covered by both insurance plans plus their portion of services they cover and Medicare does not.
Will I be able to keep Tricare?
Many people decide to get out after only one or two terms to pursue other career options. If you choose to get out before retirement age you will not be able to retain your Tricare benefits. You will still be considered a veteran and there are many benefits still available to you.
The Veterans Administration (VA) can assess your medical history to determine if you are eligible for any medical benefits from them. They will assign you a disability rating. This rating is not the same one the army may have assigned you. It is also possible to get a rating from the VA even if the Army said you did not qualify through them.
Even if you do not qualify or think you will not qualify, always apply for your VA benefits because they have many other programs to assist you. Also you may not qualify now but if you develop problems later related to your service that would qualify you. One common example is soldiers who were on jump status for many years and later developed knee problems from the repeated impact.
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