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Check Health Care Compliance Before Tax Season Kicks Off, Official Says

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, September 15, 2015 — The Defense Department wants its service members and civilian employees to know it’s not too early to make sure their 2015 health insurance paperwork is in order before filing their federal taxes, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs said in a recent interview with DoD News.

Dr. Karen Guice said the upcoming tax season, which begins Jan. 1, is the first time DoD, like other employers, must verify to the Internal Revenue Service that its employees had health care coverage throughout 2015.

“The [Affordable Care Act] says everyone should have access to basic health insurance,” she said, noting that TRICARE and all plans offered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program meet the ACA’s standards for required minimum essential coverage.

DoD employees who use their spouses’ nongovernment health insurance coverage should check with the policyholder to make sure it meets ACA standards, Guice noted.

Ensure Records are Up-to-Date

Taxpayers self-attested to having health coverage on their 2014 tax forms, but for tax year 2015 the DoD is responsible for notifying the IRS of employee health care insurance participation. It’s up to service members and DoD civilians to make sure their personnel information is up-to-date, Guice said.

“This is a good time of year to do a double-check,” she said. “We all like to think we’ve planned, but the holidays are coming and tax season will be here before people know it.”

Home addresses and social security numbers should be reviewed and updated as necessary for every family member in all military and civilian records through MyPay, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, personnel offices, and the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System for military members and their families, Guice said.

“We know we have about half a million missing social security numbers in DEERS,” she said.  Letters notifying service members of the missing SSNs were mailed in August.  .   

Having accurate social security numbers in personnel records is critical for the department to report health care coverage to the IRS and for DoD to “do the best job possible for its employees,” Guice said.

New IRS Forms to be Issued

DoD’s Pay Centers and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program carriers will send health care validation to the IRS for its members, employees, and their family members, she said, but contractors’ employers are responsible for verifying their employees’ health insurance coverage to the IRS.

DoD personnel may electronically receive a copy of IRS Form 1095 to show health care insurance compliance when filing taxes, Guice noted, adding MyPay offers an opt-in for electronic delivery to make sure the 1095 is secure and available in January.

More information about the 1095 forms, the ACA statute and other related information for service members, families and DoD civilians is available on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service’s website.

Other Health Care Options

Those not covered by or losing TRICARE or FEHB coverage should evaluate their health care options at www.healthcare.gov where financial assistance may be available due to income, family size, or state of residence. Open season for enrolling in health care policies through a State Marketplace for coverage beginning in 2016 is Nov. 1, 2015  through Jan. 31, 2016, according to www.healthcare.gov.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)