Tester Introduces Bipartisan Bill Expanding Health Care Benefits for Children of Servicemembers to Age 26

65 years after the creation of TRICARE, the Senator’s Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act would bring military insurance in line with private plans

(U.S. Senate) – 65 years after the creation of the TRICARE program, Chairman Jon Tester of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is joining his colleagues in introducing the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act, bipartisan legislation that would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan to age 26 without a premium increase—a critical lifeline as the nation works to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ensuring our nation’s servicemembers and their families have access to the same affordable health care as folks with private insurance is a no-brainer,” said Tester. “The fact is that children of servicemembers feel the unique impacts of their parents’ military careers and need the same access to care as their civilian peers. Our bipartisan bill allows every military child under the age of 26 to continue receiving steady coverage under their parents’ plan, enabling these young adults to finish school or start their careers without worrying about what happens if they get sick.”

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), children up to age 26 can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans at no additional out-of-pocket cost to the dependent. TRICARE dependents, on the other hand, are only allowed to stay on their parents’ policy until age 21 unless dependents meet specific requirements that would extend coverage only until age 23 or out of school. Tester’s Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act would bring equity to TRICARE beneficiaries by bringing eligibility for dependents in line with that offered by private insurance plans.

“Back in 2006, when my son turned 21, I contacted TRICARE concerning his continued coverage to age 26 as written in the ACA and supported by Montana law,” said Retired Colonel Kevin Collins of Montana. “At that time, I was informed by TRICARE personnel that TRICARE was an entitlement and therefore not subject to language in the ACA. After several past attempts and failures to align these two programs, it is now time to bring TRICARE in line with the ACA. I thank Senator Tester for introducing the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act, which will benefit current servicemembers and their families, and future enlistees.”

This legislation received strong backing from numerous military and veterans service organizations including the Air Force Sergeants Association, Army Aviation Association of America, Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, Blinded Veterans of America, Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service, Inc., Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, Fleet Reserve Association, Gold Star Wives of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, Marine Corps League, Marine Corps Reserve Association, Military Chaplains Association of the United States of America, National Military Family Association, Non Commissioned Officers Association of the USA, Reserve Organization of America, Service Women’s Action Network, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, United States Army Warrant Officers Association, USCG Chief Petty Officers Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, VetsFirst United Spinal Association, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

Text of the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act can be found HERE.