Veterans Affairs Programs

Consumers enrolled in any Veterans Affairs (VA) programs do not have to adjust their insurance under the Affordable Care Act. All VA health care programs and most TRICARE programs meet the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requirements for “minimum essential coverage,” which means that they provide services in 10 categories, called essential health benefits.

In California, individuals are required to have minimum essential coverage or face a penalty when they file their taxes. The good news is that all VA health care programs meet this requirement, and veterans who are enrolled in any of these programs will not be subject to the penalty.

To learn about the VA benefits available to veterans and their family members, use the VA Benefits Explorer.

Covered California for Veterans

If a veteran is not eligible for VA health benefits, or his or her family is not eligible, they may be able to purchase health insurance through Covered California or get coverage through Medi-Cal. Depending on their household size and yearly income, they may be able to get financial assistance, as well. Visit Covered California’s Shop and Compare Tool for more information.

Most veterans enrolled in a VA health plan will not be eligible for premium assistance and cost-sharing subsidies through Covered California, regardless of their household income. They may still purchase a Covered California health plan, but at full cost.

Consumers enrolled in VA coverage who wish to cancel that coverage in order to get a Covered California plan should consider the cost tradeoffs. Depending on the level of coverage they are considering through Covered California, their VA plan may have lower out-of-pocket costs or deductibles. If someone chooses to cancel their VA coverage and enroll in a plan through Covered California, they may reapply for enrollment in VA health care at any time, but they should keep in mind that returning to the VA for health care enrollment will be based on eligibility factors at the time of their application, which may result in a denial of enrollment.

Useful Links

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Resources

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