How To Identify Tricare On Tax Forms

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Ever since my colleague Amy Bushatz wrote about Tricare users needing to tick the correct box on their 2014 federal income tax forms to reflect that fact that they have Tricare health insurance, her mailbox has been out of control with questions on how to do this.

The new Affordable Care Act has a provision that penalizes taxpayers who do not have health insurance and choose not to purchase health insurance via the new health care exchanges.  These penalties are happening via the federal income tax return.  If you have qualified health insurance, then you show that on your tax return.  Unfortunately, the line is small, the labelling is poor, and the instructions are slim.

There are three versions of the basic 1040 federal income tax return:  the 1040EZ, the 1040A, and the regular 1040.  Each has a different level of complexity and lets people include more information to reflect different tax situations.  Each one has a line where you state that you have health care coverage, but it is a different line for each form.  Fortunately, it is not nearly as difficult as it looks.  Each form has a line that says Health Care: individual responsibility (see instructions), and then the words Full-year coverage and then a box.  IF you had an acceptable forms of Tricare for the entire 2014 calendar and tax year, then you just check the box and you are done.

Tricare coverage that meets the requirement of minimum essential coverage includes:

  • Prime,
  • Standard,
  • Tricare for Life,
  • Overseas,
  • Remote, and
  • Uniformed Services Family Health Plan, and also
  • Tricare Young Adult,
  • Tricare Reserve Select, and
  • Tricare Retired Reserve.

Minimum required coverage is also provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to those who are enrolled with the VA for health care, and for those who are enrolled in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA.)


If you file the 1040EZ, the health care question is located on Line 11 of the form.  If your spouse (if applicable) and you were both covered by acceptable Tricare health insurance (as listed above) for the entire 2014 calendar year, then you can check the box and continue.  Easy!

1040EZ Snip



The form 1040A form poses the health care question on line 38, on page two of the form.  If everyone claimed on this tax form was eligible for acceptable Tricare coverages (as listed above) for the entire 2014 calendar year, then tick the box and move on to the rest of the form.

1040A Snip


Please be sure that you understand that you are indicating that every member covered by the tax form has had eligible coverage for the entire year.  This question is only likely to get complicated if you have dependent parents, or if you have a strange situation where your spouse and children don’t have Tricare because you have never enrolled them in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

Form 1040

The forms may get more complicated, but indicating that you have health care coverage doesn’t get any harder.  On the Form 1040, health care identification occurs on line 61, on page two.  As with the forms listed above, if everyone represented on this tax form has been covered by qualified Tricare health coverage for the entire 2014 calendar year, your only responsibility is to put a check in the box and continue on with the form.

1040 Snip

Now, if you were not covered by Tricare or other minimum essential coverage for the entire 2014 calendar year, or if you have some family members who were not covered, then you have an entirely different set of questions.  I encourage you to go to the IRS website and do some reading, or enlist the assistance of a qualified tax person to help ensure that you complete this new portion of the tax return properly.

If any of this is unclear, please let me know and I will try to help!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • fuzznose

    You don’t have to tell them who your healthcare coverage is through, just that you have it…..

  • Guest Commentor

    Your SSAN and annual premium is matched in a database and that will identify which insurance you have.

  • Guest Commentor

    Correction to my post… Your SSAN is in a data base which identifies your insurance plan level. Your premium is not checked as you do not have to list the premium amount you pay. I recommend holding onto the receipt or receipts you have for paying you annual premium. File the payment receipts with the other receipts you used for deductions.

  • Bob

    Question … I am a USAF retiree and opted for TRICARE Standard, for which I pay no weekly/monthly/annual premium. It is STILL considered as meeting the minimum requirements?

    • Kat

      If that is considered TriCare Standard then yes, according to the list above.

      • Guest #1

        And yes, Tricare Standard and Extra meets the MEC, or Minimum Essential Coverage.

    • Sarah

      Bob look closer to your pay stub we are now paying a monthly fee for tricare standard.

      • Tricare Standard and Extra are a fee for service plan, you pay an annual deductible and cost shares, but no enrollment fee see snapshot from Tricare web page below. and it does meet minimum affordable care act requirements

        What You Pay

        Costs vary based on the sponsor’s military status. You’ll pay:
        •An annual outpatient deductible
        •Cost shares (or percentage) for covered services

  • Cin

    what about if my child is claimed by me but covered under Tricare prime by her father? How is that marked?

    • Kate

      Cin, you will have to work through the worksheet and directions to reflect the fact that one of you was covered, but one was not. (Unless, of course, you have your own qualifying coverage.)

    • Guest#1

      If you claim your child as your dependent and iterated in the dependent list, then you will need to mark the Health Care block, if both of you have full coverage. Otherwise you will need to fill in for exemption or fill the ACA Worksheet to figure out your Shared Responsibility Payment. In short, each tax return should have an indication that all of those listed in the return, i.e. Taxpayer, Spouse and Dependents have medical coverage that meets the Minimum Eligibility Coverage (MEC) of Obamacare or the so called ACA.

      • Guest #1

        Correction, Minimum Essential Coverage instead of Minimum Eligibility Coverage in the above post.

  • Roxy

    Hello what’ll if m husband was active duty until April of 2014, my daughter but we don’t have medical insurance any more?

    • Tony

      If he retired he should have enrolled in tricare standard or tricare prime

    • Kate

      Roxy, what have you been using for health care coverage since your husband left active duty. One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act is that you are supposed to purchase coverage from the state health care exchange if you do not have coverage elsewhere. I am not an expert on the Affordable Care Act, I only know how it applies to the military.

  • Sharon

    I received a post card in the mail early in December, saying my Tricare coverage meets ACA standards for required health insurance coverage.

  • Roxy

    Hello what’ll if m husband was active duty until April of 2014, my daughter has Medicaid but we don’t have medical insurance any more since April 28?

    • Guests#1

      If you did not have full coverage for the year, you will need to fill in Form 8965 to see if you can file for exemption. If NOT, then you will need to fill in the ACA Worksheet to compute your Shared Responsibility Payment or the so called Fine or Penalty or Tax depending who you talk to.

  • Jim Duddy

    What about Medicare then Tricare for life??

    • Guest#1

      You meet the MEC, you are good to go. Both Tricare for Life and Medicare meet the Minimum Essential Coverage.

  • Sharing

    If you had Medicare all year do the same as Tricare. Tricare for Life is a supplement to Medicare and isn’t a player. If you don’t have coverage all year it’s a little bit more complicated and may have a penalty for the period you didn’t have health insurance. There are some exemptions that you may qualify for. See this IRS Publication If you are still confused and didn’t have coverage all year you want to have your taxes accomplished by a tax professional. If your child is covered by father with Tricare Prime they are covered as I’m sure you are aware and you don’t have healthcare you may also have a penalty for you not having healthcare. If you do not have qualifying coverage or an exemption for each month of the year, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your return (Penalty Payment). Another good tool at IRS web site…. I hope this helps.

    • Barb

      So if I have Medicare and Tricare (I think it’s for life, not sure. I’m 66 dependent widow), then I’m not covered? And need a third insurance coverage?

      • Raquelina Woods

        You would be covered since you have to pay for the medicare coverage; Tricare for Life kicks in when you qualify for medicare – at age 65….

  • Floyd Robertson

    Thanks for the information contained within this email

  • M Meier

    This is a little off subject, but here is an interesting tidbit I learned in regards to 100% disabled Retiree (military), Tricare and Social Security/Medicare.
    The Military and the Government always want to know if you have “other coverage” (obviously meaning insurance). This is because they will charge the civilian policy before the government pays. However, if you are a 100% disabled Retiree, Social Security/Medicare will pay first. And you HAVE to have a Social Security/Medicare supplement that you pay for.
    I learned this from my sister, who’s husband is a 1005 disabled Retired Veteran.

    • Dianna

      I too am a 100% disabled retired military that also has Medicare. If you are under the age of 65 and have Medicare you must report that to Tricare and have your Tricare switched to Tricare for Life which becomes your supplement. Medicare is not free and cost 3 times more than Tricare Prime each month so he is paying a premium. Medicare does count for insurance and I kept my husband on Tricare Prime which counts as his.

    • John

      If he is service connected he is covered a 100% Medicare pays 1st then Tricare pays Tricare even pays the Medicare deductible ..another retire__

  • Ashley

    If I am seperated from the military and dont have medical insurance but can be seen at the VA, is that covered.

    • Kate

      Ashley, if you are enrolled with the VA for health care, that is considered minimum essential coverage and fulfills the requirements of the ACA.

  • jordan

    To the above question Ashley asked… do we show we have coverage through the va? I’m in the same boat as Ashley.

    • Dianna

      The VA issues a picture ID card and that is your proof that you are enrolled in the VA health system. If you don’t have an ID card then you are not enrolled and need to make a trip to your local VA.

    • John

      Ashley & Jordan the VA should issues u a VA ID Picture Card

      • John

        I just received mine today it’s a new card from VA called VETERANS CHOICE CARD check with the nearest VA Rep to see if u eligible for it

        • Jonathan

          No, the Veterans Choice Card is not the same as a VA photo ID card. Veterans Choice is a program established by law that allows an eligible Veteran to receive care from a non-VA provider, paid for by the VA. Under the Veterans Choice program, the Veteran can receive care from a non-VA provider, paid for by the VA *IF*… the Veteran lives more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility, or if there are significant geographic barriers impairing access to the VA facility, or if the earliest available appointment at the VA facility is more than 30 days after the date the Veteran requests or more than 30 days after the “clinically indicated date” (that is, the date your provider says you need to be seen).

          Closely read the letter that came with your Veterans Choice Card. It specifically says, “The Choice Card does not replace the identification card you already use to access other VA benefits.”

    • Jonathan

      You don’t have to show that your coverage is through the VA. All you have to do is check the box on the tax form as shown in the article above, to state that you had healthcare coverage all year. The form does not require you to identify or prove what healthcare program provides your coverage.

  • William

    want to change my current mailing address

  • Michael

    Do I have to do anything different if my wife and I had our son born in the middle of the year? Or do I just fill out the form just like you had stated?

    • Kate

      Assuming that your son is covered by the same medical insurance as you and/or your wife, then you fill out the form exactly as stated.

  • Cipriano

    What happen if you are 100% service-connected disability where VA provides all your medicines and treatment? How do you show that on 1040?

    • Kate

      Cipriano, you put a check in the box where it asks if you have medical coverage.

  • Lydia L.

    My husband is a Navy retiree and we both have Medicare and Tricare for Life. I will lose my TFL when our divorce is finalized, Will I be penalized if I don’t get a supplement for my Medicare?

  • Kate

    From the website, “Medicare counts as minimum essential coverage and satisfies the law that requires people to have health coverage. If you had Medicare for all of 2014, just check the box on your federal income tax form. You won’t have to fill out any additional tax forms, and you won’t have to pay the fee that people without coverage might have to pay.”

    It looks like you are covered.

  • Roger Brown

    With respect to Tricare for Life, You cannot just check the 61 coverage block in TurboTax. Click on the amount line 61 which will take you to Form 8965. Select Form 1065 and “Check the box to populate…” 12 months or as appropriate.
    This action will X the 1040 Line 61 coverage block.

    • Kate

      Roger, thanks for giving us that Turbo Tax update. The paper version of the form are much simpler, in this regard!

    • Burt Benson

      If one has TFL he/ she will also have Medicare which also meets the requirements so just checking box 61 should be sufficient

  • Tammy

    my accountant is asking for a form 1095A from my insurance provider to prove health insurance coverage? do I call tricare north?

    • Kate

      Tammy, I’m 99% sure that Tricare isn’t issuing 1095s. The rules are really confusing, but as I understand it, they aren’t required, at least for 2014.

    • Bethany

      According to, the 1095-A is sent out by the health care marketplaces and is used by taxpayers to claim the premium tax credit. If you’re on Tricare, it’s unlikely that this would apply to you. A tax professional should be able to explain why you need it and who to get it from if you do.