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Disabled Vet Health Insurance Loophole Leaves Some Without Coverage

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The Kallweit family (credit: CBS)

The Kallweit family (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4)- A loophole in the health care overhaul is impacting families in Colorado. Families of disabled veterans don’t understand how they were left without coverage.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that children up to the age of 26 can remain on their parents’ health insurance. But that benefit was not passed on to disabled veterans’ families.

“I ended up getting lupus and luckily I got health care service connected,” said U.S. Navy Veteran Russ Kallweit.

Kallweit receives his medical insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

His family includes his wife and three children. They have been covered with ChampVA, a health care plan for families of disabled veterans. Until now.

Kallweit’s daughter, Alyssa, is 22 years old and a college graduate.

“I’m not insured right now,” said Alyssa.

Kallweit’s son, AJ, is 21 years old and will graduate in May 2013.

“I’ll be uninsured until I can either afford to get individual coverage or I get hired somewhere,” said AJ.

With ChampVA, children lose their coverage once they turn 18.

“They are not eligible for the plan anymore unless they are a full-time student,” said Alyssa and AJ’s mother Barb Kallweit. “If you’re a full-time student you can keep it until age 23.”

If the Kallweits were on a private insurance plan they would have coverage until they were 26 years old, regardless if they were enrolled in school. The coverage guarantee is part of Pres. Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

“It’s frustrating. I mean health care seems to be happening for everybody else and everybody keeps saying we’re taking care of our veterans,” said Russ Kallweit.

“I hate to see her worry,” said Barb Kallweit.

Andrea Kallweit is 18 and needs heart valve replacement surgery. Doctors monitor her condition closely because it’s not a matter of whether she needs the surgery but when.

The problem is whether she will be able to undergo the surgery and still be a full-time college student to maintain her health care coverage.

“In one breath I’m telling her not to stress to calm down, don’t worry about it and have fun. And in the next breath I’m saying you have to stay in school. So it’s mixed messages. I feel bad doing it, but that’s the reality of it,” said Barb Kallweit.

The question remains how disabled veterans’ families were left out of the Affordable Care Act?

“I don’t know the answer as to why they were left out,” said Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat representing Colorado. “We have to fix it, that’s my goal.”

There is a bill pending in Congress, Senate Bill 490, that would cover children like Andrea until age 26.

Udall said it is stalled because of funding.

“When we return to the lame duck session after the election I’m going to do everything possible in my power to see that we pass that bill,” said Udall.

The new legislation would take some of the pressure off that Andrea is feeling.

“That would be nice,” said Andrea.

Andrea has an appointment with her doctor at the end of November where she will be evaluated again.

The hope is she can put off open heart surgery as long as possible.

Disabled service men and women like Russ wouldn’t feel forgotten, “It’s kind of a slap.”

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