How Affordable Care Act impacts veterans

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law on March 23, 2010. The intent of its passage is to expand access to health-care coverage, control health-care costs, and improve America’s health-care delivery system. Under provisions of the ACA’s "individual mandate," all Americans are required to purchase medical insurance by Jan. 1.

How does the ACA impact veterans?

Under the ACA, most individuals will be required to have minimum essential health-care coverage for themselves and their dependents. If people do not have the minimum coverage, they will have to make a payment when filing taxes for each month they lack coverage. This payment will either be a flat fee or a percentage of taxable household income.

For example, you would pay $95 or 1 percent of your taxable income for 2014, $325 or 2 percent in 2015, $695 or 2.5 percent in 2016, etc. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care meets the law’s standard for coverage. Therefore, veterans already enrolled in VA health care would not be eligible for assistance in lowering the cost of their health insurance premiums, if they were to purchase additional health-care coverage outside of VA.

Veterans may still purchase private health insurance, on or off the marketplace, to complement their VA coverage. If veterans are enrolled in VA, they do not need to take additional steps to meet the health-care coverage standards of the ACA.

What if a veteran is not currently enrolled in the VA?

VA wants all veterans to receive health care that improves their health and well-being. Veterans and other beneficiaries wishing to enroll in VA health care can apply here for enrollment at any time.

Where can veterans learn more on how the ACA will affect them?

Last week, VA began sending letters to enrolled veterans to highlight its web page on the ACA, and to answer any questions about the requirements of the law. The bottom line: the ACA does not change VA health benefits or veterans’ out-of-pocket costs. And if you are not enrolled in VA health care, you can apply at any time.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your veterans health-care benefits and the Affordable Care Act, please contact The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission at