Starting this year, U.S. taxpayers will need to declare that they have health coverage on their federal tax forms.
But the only thing service members and most other Tricare beneficiaries need to do is check a box.
Line 61 on Internal Revenue Service Form 1040, Line 38 on the 1040A and various other entries on IRS income tax forms require taxpayers to self-declare whether they had health care coverage in 2014.
The forms ask taxpayers to check a box under "health care individual responsibility" if they and anyone they can claim as a dependent met the requirements for minimum essential coverage during the year.
The various iterations of Tricare — Prime, Standard, Tricare for Life, Overseas, Remote and the Uniformed Services Family Health Plan — meet the coverage criteria, as do premium-based programs such as Tricare Young Adult, Tricare Reserve Select and Tricare Retired Reserve.
Starting in 2016, Tricare will send forms to beneficiaries confirming coverage. But this year, no forms are needed to complete the income tax process.
Veterans enrolled in Veterans Affairs Department health care also meet the standard for minimum essential coverage under the law, as do family members enrolled in the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA), and VA's Spina bifida health care program, according to department officials.
VA is required by law to notify the IRS of a veteran's enrollment in the VA health care system.
Starting next year, VA also will send veterans and eligible beneficiaries forms that provide details of the health coverage provided by VA.
Patricia Kime is a senior writer covering military and veterans health care, medicine and personnel issues.