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Free TRICARE to Cover Dependents Until Age 26?

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TRICARE Extension Possible for Dependents

On January 25th, Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-VA) reintroduced the Health Care for Military Families Act, (H.R. 475), which would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ TRICARE plan until the age of 26, and without an increase in premiums.

This could save some military families over $400 per month.

Similar, Equal Access as Civilians Under ACA

The legislation, which was also introduced in June of 2020, has been brought to the table again by Representative Luria and her co-sponsor, Representative Michael Waltz (R-FL). 

“The Affordable Care Act allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans until 26, however, the ACA did not give military families this same benefit,” announced Congresswoman Luria in a press statement. “During this public health emergency, it is more important than ever to provide our service members and their families with affordable and accessible health care.”

“Our service members have risked everything to protect our nation and preserve our freedoms, they should not have to worry about the health and welfare of their families while serving our country.”

– Congressman Waltz

“Our service members have risked everything to protect our nation and preserve our freedoms,” added Congressman Waltz. “They should not have to worry about the health and welfare of their families while serving our country. That’s why I’m proud to support this legislation to support our military families, provide an additional retention-incentive for our service members, and ensure the children of our troops have the same, equal access to health care as their civilian counterparts.”

Coverage Currently Covers Up to 23 in Some Cases

Currently, unmarried biological, step-children and adopted children are eligible for TRICARE until the age of 21, or 23 if in college, according to TRICARE’s website. In order to extend it out to age 23, the child must be enrolled in a full course of study at an approved institute of higher learning, and the sponsor must still provide more than half of their financial support. When the child’s eligibility to remain on their parent’s TRICARE plan runs out, they have the option to purchase their own TRICARE Young Adult health care plan. However, these plans only provide coverage until the young adult turns 26 years old.

Congresswoman Luria’s legislation attempts, again, to take the TRICARE health care coverage, a huge benefit earned through military service, and conform it to those private health care plans regulated by the Affordable Care Act. Under the ACA, children up to 26 can remain on their parents’ health care plans at no additional out of pocket costs to the dependent.

Same Bill Was Introduced in June of 2020

On the same day it was introduced, H.R. 475 was referred to the House Committee on Armed Services for evaluation. To be fair, the predecessor to this legislation (H.R. 7176) was referred to the same committee on June 11, 2020, and it did not move forward. As it stands now, the legislation is not on the committee’s calendar.

The greatest pushback to this legislation, and probably what stopped the forward movement of the other, is the estimated cost. While no estimate has yet been provided by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), it will likely cause some debate. Or it could get rolled up as a provision into an omnibus bill. 

We will watch the movement of H.R. 475 through the process and post updates as they happen. 

(Image courtesy of kenishirotie via 123rf.com)





About the author

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Robert Haynes is a retired Army infantryman who has a squad of kids and is married to an active duty Soldier. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who spent his last few years in the Army as a Drill Sergeant. He is now a full-time dad, freelance writer, and out-of-work comedian.