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News

Affordable Care Act Mandates Reporting Minimum Essential Health Care Coverage

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2017 - As tax season approaches, Defense Department civilians, military members, nonappropriated funds employees and their families will need to validate their minimum essential health care coverage as reported to the Internal Revenue Service, the Pentagon's top health official said in a phone interview Dec. 23, 2016. 

Dr. Karen S. Guice, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, performing duties as assistant secretary for health affairs, said the Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010, extends the availability of health care insurance to ensure people are covered through health insurance market places or employers.  The Supreme Court upheld the law after it was challenged in 2012, she added.

"The relevance to us is the requirement to report minimal essential coverage to the IRS," Guice said. "It's important for us to review all of the rules as we move into tax season."

Guice explained that DoD members and employees will receive a Form 1095, designated B or C. Service members and DoD civilians will use the 1095-B or 1095-C to answer health coverage questions on their federal tax returns. These forms are used for TRICARE [ http://www.tricare.mil/?source=GovDelivery ], the continued health care benefit program, and the federal employee health benefits plans. 

"Any one of our DoD families, active duty military, retirees, civilians or contractors may see a mixture of these, depending on how the people in their household are covered by health insurance," Guice said. "It's a way for individuals in the household who are covered by insurance to validate the information and correct erroneous information through the entity that sends the 1095 form. 

Guice emphasized that the 1095 form is not intended to be filed with taxes, but rather is used as a validation of information that the IRS already has received from DoD.   "It's really important for everyone to look at this information and validate it as correct, because that's the information that the IRS will act on."

DoD offers the 1095 form in various ways, Guice said. Those who receive the forms by mail from a uniformed services pay center, NAF employers and contractors should receive them by Jan. 31, she added.  Defense Finance and Accounting Service and U.S. Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center users can download their forms on Jan. 17.

*Failure to Report*

Lacking the minimal health care requirements or failure to report can bring a cost penalty, Guice said. 

"The Affordable Care Act expectation is that every citizen will have health insurance or they will pay an individual shared responsibility payment," she said. "If you've elected not to have minimal essential coverage, you may face a payment requirement which is based on a percentage of your income or a fixed amount, depending on the individual's or family's circumstances." 

"Each individual is going to have to double check and make sure their information is correct," Guice said. "Otherwise, once you submit all your tax forms, it's a little bit harder to pull some of those back from the IRS." 

For questions about how obtain the 1095 form or to inquire about the information It contains, contact servicing pay centers or visit this TRICARE webpage [ http://www.tricare.mil/about/MEC/ProofMEC?source=GovDelivery ]. For questions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's individual coverage mandate and potential tax penalty following a lack of health care coverage, visit this IRS webpage [ http://www.irs.gov/aca?source=GovDelivery ] or the nearest IRS service center.