Options for veterans, military members, and their families

Military health coverage

The U.S. Department of Defense heath care program, known as TRICARE, provides health care coverage for military families, retirees, and their survivors. The plan includes doctor visits, medications, and dental care.

Active duty personnel, reservists, and National Guard members get military health coverage after 30 straight days of active duty service. Children of military personnel might be eligible for a new TRICARE plan -- TRICARE Young Adult (TYA).

Before TYA, TRICARE only covered dependents until age 21, or age 23 if they were full-time college students. TRICARE still provides this coverage. In addition, TYA offers coverage for dependents who meet all of the following conditions:

  • are at least 21 but not yet 26
  • are unmarried
  • aren't eligible for insurance through their job.

Full-time students who get more than 50 percent of their financial support from a sponsor can enroll at age 23 or upon graduation, whichever is first.

Continue employer coverage

Many reservists and National Guard members have health coverage for themselves and their families through their job and want to continue the coverage while on active duty. Talk with your benefits administrator at work to learn what will happen with your health coverage if you are called to active duty. While employers aren't required to pay your premiums while you're on active duty, some employers will.

If you leave your job to join the military, federal laws - the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) - allow you to keep coverage for yourself up to 18 months and for your dependents up to 36 months. You must pay the full cost of the health plan yourself, which could be up to 102 percent of the premium.

If you had an individual health care plan that you canceled before your service, you can request full reinstatement after your service is over.

The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) requires insurance companies to reinstate your health insurance with no waiting period when you return from active duty service. You must request the reinstatement in writing no later than 120 days after you're released from military service. You are not entitled to reinstatement if you can get group health coverage from an employer.

For more information about SCRA, call the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-800-669-8477 or visit its website at www.va.gov/

Buying extra coverage

If you are a veteran enrolled in the VA health care program, you won't need to get additional coverage to avoid tax penalties.

If you choose to buy more coverage, you may buy a secondary insurance plan through the health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov. The federal government operates the insurance marketplace in Texas.

Find group coverage

If you aren't covered by TRICARE and aren't eligible for VA health care, ask your employer if it offers a health plan for its employees. Most employers that offer a health plan also provide coverage to their employees' spouses and dependent children.
Learn more about group coverage

Question? Call us at 1-800-252-3439.

Last updated: 10/30/2018