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TRICARE and the Affordable Care Act

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- With the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, TRICARE beneficiaries have had questions about how it will affect them. The ACA and TRICARE are very different, governed by two different pieces of legislation so changes in one have no effect on the other.

The intent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the health care reform law, was to provide affordable health insurance options to everyone. This is the first major difference between TRICARE and the ACA. TRICARE is not health insurance; it is a federal health care entitlement program only for eligible uniformed service members, retirees and their families.

The ACA mandated a set of minimum essential benefits for commercial health insurance.  Before the passage of the ACA, TRICARE had already provided most of these benefits such as cost-free screenings, vaccinations and counseling.

TRICARE is a benefit established under law as the health care program for the uniformed services, retirees and their families. The ACA does affect civilian health insurance plans for most Americans, but does not apply the TRICARE program. For more information about TRICARE, the ACA or minimum essential coverage, visit the TRICARE website.