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The Affordable Care Act and You

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)—also known as the health care law—was created to expand access to coverage, control health care costs, and improve health care quality and care coordination. Find out what you need to know about the ACA and your health coverage.

What does the ACA mean for me?

Under this law, if you’re a U.S. taxpayer, you and your family members must meet one of the requirements listed below.

You and your family members must:

  • Have health coverage that meets a minimum standard (called the “minimum essential coverage” requirement), or
  • Qualify for an exemption, or
  • Pay a fee when filing your taxes if you have affordable health coverage options but choose not to buy health insurance. This fee is known as an individual shared responsibility payment. It’s also sometimes called the “penalty,” “fine,” or “individual mandate.”

Find out how much you may have to pay for not having health insurance.
Learn more about the individual shared responsibility payment from the Internal Revenue Service.

Does my health coverage through VA meet the ACA’s minimum essential coverage requirement?

Your health coverage meets the minimum essential coverage requirement if you’re signed up for one of the programs listed below.

To qualify, you must be signed up for one of these programs:

If you’re covered under one of these programs, you don’t need to do anything more to avoid the penalty fee. If you’re not covered under one of these programs, you can apply at any time.

Are you a Servicemember or Veteran?
Find out if you qualify for VA health benefits.

Are you a family member or caregiver?
Find out if you qualify for health benefits for family members and caregivers.

Does the ACA change my VA health benefits?

No. The health care law doesn’t change your VA health benefits or your out-of-pocket costs.

If I’m not signed up for a VA or Department of Defense health care program, how do I get health coverage to meet the requirement?

If you’re not signed up for a health care program—and you don’t meet the health care law coverage standards—you’ll need to get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Through the Marketplace, you can shop for and buy private health insurance (health plans that aren’t provided by VA) to fit your budget and meet your needs. You may be able to get financial assistance, like lower costs on monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs. You may also qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The 2018 Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period was November 1, 2017, to December 15, 2017. You can enroll after open enrollment only if you have life changes—like losing your coverage, getting married, or having a baby—or if you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.
Get more details on enrollment dates.
Apply for health coverage and find out if you qualify for assistance.

What if members of my family have access to affordable coverage but remain uninsured?

If your family members have access to affordable coverage but remain uninsured, you may have to pay a penalty fee when filing your taxes. This payment will either be a flat fee or a percentage of your taxable household income, depending on which amount is higher. The fee will only be for the months you didn’t have qualifying health coverage.
Find out how much you may pay for not having health insurance.
Learn more about the individual shared responsibility payment.

Can I get an exemption so I don’t have to pay the penalty fee for being uninsured?

You may qualify for an exemption for a number of reasons, like:

  • Certain hardships
  • Some life events
  • Health coverage or financial status
  • Membership in some groups

Learn more about exemptions.

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