Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

Minimum Essential Coverage is defined as the type of health insurance coverage that you must have in order to comply with the individual mandate set forth by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). From January 1, 2014 and onward, individuals must have MEC insurance or they will be subject to a tax penalty.

Health Insurance Minimum Essential Coverage

Health Insurance that meets MEC requirements:

  • Most Employer-sponsored plans, COBRA plans, and retiree plans
  • Individual and family plans purchased direct through an insurance carrier
  • Medicare Part A and Medicare Advantage plans
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Peace Corps volunteer health benefits
  • Student Health Plans
  • Other coverage designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as MEC

Health Insurance that does not meet MEC requirements:

  • Stand-alone dental and vision plans
  • Accident or disability income insurance
  • Medical discount plans
  • Specific disease policies
  • Worker’s compensation insurance
  • Certain types of limited Medicaid
  • Certain AmeriCorps or AfterCorps coverage

Minimum Essential Coverage vs. Essential Health Benefits

Minimum Essential Coverage is often confused with the Essential Health Benefits. MEC insurance meets a minimum requirement that helps you to avoid the tax penalty, while EHB are a set of 10 core benefits that all new plans for individuals and small groups are required to cover as of 2014.  There are some plans that do not cover the Essential Health Benefits but still meet the MEC requirement, such as large group plans or grandfathered plans.