TRICARE plans meet MEC requirements for tax filing

The Affordable Care Act requires individuals to purchase qualifying health care coverage, known as minimum essential coverage (MEC), or to pay a tax penalty (if they do not qualify for an exemption).

So what does this mean for TRICARE beneficiaries? Those who had a qualifying TRICARE plan throughout 2014 satisfy the MEC requirements, so do not have to pay a penalty. Qualifying plans include TRICARE for Life, Prime, and Standard.

Click here for a list of TRICARE coverage that meets MEC requirements.

Employers and healthcare plans are not required to report individual coverage to the IRS until 2015. TRICARE beneficiaries must report their MEC when filing their taxes. The most-common IRS forms -- including the 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ -- now include a "Health Care: individual responsibility" field where filers can indicate if they carried coverage for the entire year. The field is line 61 on the 1040, line 38 on the 1040A, and line 11 on the 1040EZ.

Beneficiaries or family members who did not have MEC for all of 2014 are required to make an individual shared responsibility payment, if they don't qualify for an exemption.