Tricare and the Affordable Care Act

U.S. Capitol Congress
Sunlight shines on the U.S. Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Affordable Care Act requires you to maintain basic health care coverage, called minimum essential coverage. If you don't have minimum essential coverage you may have to pay a fee for each month you are not covered.

If you're using any of the following health plans, you have the minimum essential coverage required by the health care reform law. Unless you're considering other health coverage, you don't need to take any action at this time.

Typically, you don't have minimum essential coverage from Tricare if you're only eligible for care at military hospitals and clinics (also known as "direct care") and not covered by another Tricare plan as listed above.

Examples of beneficiaries eligible only for direct care include:

  • Dependent-parents and parents-in-law
  • Guard/Reserve members getting Line of Duty care Service
  • Secretarial Designees

If you don't have what is known as "minimum essential coverage" healthcare you will have to pay a penalty.

Reporting Your Coverage

TRICARE users need to identify themselves and their families as having minimum essential coverage on their tax return or risk paying a penalty. There are three versions of the basic 1040 federal income tax return: the 1040EZ, the 1040A, and the 1040.   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 calendar and tax year, then you just check the box and you are done.


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 calendar year, you should check the box.


If you file the 1040A, the healthcare question is located on line 38 which is on page two of the form.  If everyone claimed on this tax form was eligible for acceptable Tricare coverage (as listed above) for the entire calendar year, you should check the box.

Form 1040

If you file the 1040, the  health care question appears on line 61, which is on page two. If everyone represented on this tax form has been covered by qualified Tricare for the entire calendar year, you should check the box.

If you were not covered by Tricare or other minimum essential coverage for the entire calendar year, or if you have some family members who were not covered, then you should to go to the IRS website to clarify your situation or or enlist the assistance of a qualified tax preparer.

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Tricare Military Taxes