Veterans Deserve Better
Please note that there have been many changes, including the expansion of the Veteran’s Choice Act (program), since this was originally written. It is a good sign that changes are being made to not penalize Veteran’s and their Families for trying to get help affording and enrolling in health insurance plans, as well as accessing medical care. Medicaid eligibility rules have also been expanded to allow Veterans better access to Medicaid benefits, if they qualify.
Veterans Benefits should NOT be Designated an Employer Group Plan
The method under which Veterans Benefits are categorized and administered today should be reviewed and the “designation” of VA Benefits as Employer-Group Benefits should be changed to reflect that VA Benefits are “earned for Service”, and that they should be treated the same as how Medicare Benefits are treated under PPACA.
Medicare eligibility is earned by having earned-income for the requisite minimum number of payroll quarters; and Individuals are not required to surrender their Medicare Benefits if they or their spouse enrolls in an Individual health plan on an Exchange. After all, Veterans are not “Employees” of the VA system as employees have different government health benefits, by contract.
The most concerning issue with the current designation is that it requires Veteran’s to surrender their VA Benefits they have earned for serving the Country, if they wish to purchase an Individual health plan AND qualify for either Medicaid or a Subsidy on an Exchange. It is not simply the Veteran that is impacted, the seriousness of the current enforcement is that the Veteran’s family is also excluded from these other programs, if the Veteran does not surrender their VA Benefits. This is due to the VA Benefits being considered an “affordable employer-plan” with no cost-sharing; therefore, excluding the Veterans family from accessing financial assistance, Subsidies, on the Exchanges.
With regards to the Veterans themselves, instead of giving up their VA Benefits to access a health plan on the Exchanges; there should be consideration to allow Veterans to enroll in the Catastrophic Plans available either On-or-Off the Exchanges, regardless of their age, considering the VA Benefits are primary and the Individual health plan is secondary. It would be an expense to the Veteran; however, it is a low-cost plan that increases the access-to-care, noting that the VA is still the primary care provider.