TRICARE is the medical coverage for those that serve, defend, and protect our nation in the Armed Forces. Many military members are concerned that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare, will affect TRICARE or change the coverage in some way.

The ACA does not change the coverage offered through TRICARE. Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits also remain the same. The one thing that is important to note is that TRICARE does not cover dependents up to age 26, as most other ACA-compliant plans do. TRICARE continues to cover dependents up to age 21 or 23 if they are enrolled full-time in college.

The ACA for TRICARE Enrollees

If you are among those enrolled in one of the many TRICARE health plans, you are considered covered under the ACA and do not need to take additional action to receive coverage. You will not face a tax penalty during 2014 unless your coverage ends and is not replaced with other qualified coverage.

If you are only eligible for care at military clinics and hospitals, but are not covered by an actual TRICARE plan, you are not considered covered by the ACA and would need to select a marketplace plan. You can learn more about specific enrollment details for your state and enroll by visiting You must have obtained coverage by March 31st, 2014 or will face the tax penalty for non-coverage. If insurance is not obtainable due to financial or other circumstances, you can apply for an exemption to avoid the penalty.

The ACA for Those Transitioning Out of the Military

Those transitioning out of military service will qualify for a special enrollment period, because they will be losing their current insurance. This will allow you to purchase health insurance outside the normal open enrollment period.

Insurance can be obtained from a job, or private insurance can be purchased from your state marketplace. Medicare also qualifies as adequate coverage under the ACA. It’s important to note that the Transitional Assistance Management Plan and Continued Health Care Benefit Program through the military both qualify as having coverage under ObamaCare.

TRICARE Young Adult

For those who turn 21 (or 23, if enrolled full-time in college) and can no longer be covered under their parent’s TRICARE policy, TRICARE Young Adult may be available to provide qualified coverage under the ACA.

TRICARE Young Adult is available for those who meet all of the following criteria:

  • Unmarried, adult child of an eligible sponsor (such as an active duty service member, activated Guard/Reserve member, and others).
  • Between the ages of 21 and 26 (or 23 and 26, for those attending school full-time)
  • Not eligible for employer-based health insurance
  • Not eligible for other TRICARE coverage

TRICARE Young Adult provides medical and pharmacy benefits, but no dental coverage. For more details, visit the TRICARE Young Adult page.

Those who serve our country in the military, veterans, and families of both active duty and veterans deserve excellent care at a low cost and lawmakers have worked to obtain that coverage. Most TRICARE enrollees do not need to change anything due to the ACA, and those transitioning out will have new options for insurance through their state Marketplace.