Does VA health care count as insurance?

By Nancy MetcalfConsumer Reports

Q. My 35-year-old son gets all of his medical needs taken care of at the VA. Does that count as health insurance in the new health care law?

A. Yes. His VA health coverage is health insurance. It’s written into the law, as a matter of fact, so he's all set. But if he wants he can buy other coverage.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has put out a page of FAQs about the Affordable Care Act that explains all this in detail.

Some highlights:

  • Although VA health care meets the requirements of the new law, there’s nothing to stop beneficiaries from having other coverage as well.
  • If you have VA health care, you can’t get tax credits to lower the cost of your premiums on state Health Insurance Marketplaces because you’re considered already to have “minimum essential coverage.” But you can still shop on a marketplace for additional coverage if you want.
  • Having VA health care does not preclude other members of your family from getting those subsidies for marketplace plans.
  • Veterans can apply for VA health coverage at any time. Acceptance depends on where you fall on a priority list for coverage, a list that can change from time to time.

Got a question for our health insurance expert? Ask it here. It helps if you include the state you live in.

— Nancy Metcalf

Health reform countdown: We are doing an article a day on the new health care law until Jan. 1, 2014, when it takes full effect. (Read the previous posts in the series.) To get health insurance advice tailored to your situation, use our Health Law Helper.

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