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How will Affordable Care Act affect veterans? New VA website has answers

Aug. 9, 2013 - 04:17PM   |  
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The Veterans Affairs Department has launched a new website explaining the likely impact of the Affordable Care Act on former troops and their families.

The site addresses questions such as whether the law affects those already receiving VA health care (it doesn’t), who is eligible for VA care, and options available to uninsured family members.

Under the Affordable Care Act, veterans who qualify for VA health care — including all who fall into the Veterans Affairs Department’s eight health care priority groups — do not have to buy health insurance under the law’s requirement that all individuals must have coverage.

VA wants all eligible veterans who aren’t already in the system to visit the website and sign up.

“VA encourages eligible veterans who are not enrolled in VA’s health care system to take advantage of the world-class care we provide to the men and women who have served this nation in uniform,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said.

For eligible veterans, VA health care carries no enrollment fees, monthly premiums or deductibles.

According to VA data, nearly 8.6 million veterans are enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration. An estimated 6.6 million more of the nation’s 23 million veterans are eligible, but many have other insurance.

VA believes that roughly 1.3 million veterans are uninsured and may be eligible for VA care.

Nearly 1 million spouses and children of veterans also do not have health insurance. For them, the law created a health insurance marketplace where the uninsured can shop for a policy.

By law, U.S. citizens who do not have health insurance and do not qualify for government programs could face penalties starting in January. Annual fines would start at $95 for an adult, $47.50 for a child and $285 per family or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater.

In 2016 and beyond, fines would rise to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child; and $2,085 per family or 2.5 percent of family income, whichever is greater.

The fines would be paid out of an individual’s tax return.

Federal and many state marketplaces or insurance exchanges are set to open for business on Oct. 1.

Visite the site at www.va.gov/health/aca/.

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