Pentagon officials say the only difference that most Tricare beneficiaries will see with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is an additional piece of mail every January and an extra box to check off on their tax forms each April.
That’s because Tricare, for most people using it, already meets the minimum essential coverage mandated by the new law, according to a statement released by the Defense Department on Thursday.
Just two groups of Tricare beneficiaries do not meet the minimum essential coverage requirement, said DoD -- those receiving care for line-of-duty-only conditions, and those eligible only to receive care in military hospitals or clinics.
These individuals, if they do not already have medical coverage meeting the ACA minimum for their other healthcare needs, will have to acquire it.
All other Tricare users should see no change.
“Simply speaking, the Affordable Care Act will have very little impact on Tricare beneficiaries,” the Defense Department said in a statement.
Beginning with the 2014 tax season, and every tax year after that, the Department of Defense will send every Tricare beneficiary the same information it sends the Internal Revenue Service. The information details whether the sponsor -- the principal beneficiary -- and his or her dependents had minimum essential coverage during the previous year. Beneficiaries use the information when filling out federal tax forms.
Under the new law, U.S. citizens must have health coverage that meets a minimum standard -- called minimum essential coverage -- by Jan. 1, 2014.
People who receive Tricare benefits, whether by electing to pay an enrollment fee or by paying monthly premiums, meet the minimum essential coverage requirement. This includes users of Tricare Prime, Prime Remote and Standard, and the premium-based plans -- Tricare Reserve Select, Tricare Young Adult, Tricare Retired Reserve, and the Continued Health Care Benefit Program.
But eligibility alone for the premium-based plans does not constitute minimum essential coverage, the DoD said. For that, eligible beneficiaries need to actually purchase a plan and be in good standing by paying the premiums.