Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

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Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) is the type of coverage an individual must have in order to satisfy the individual mandate of the ACA. (Note: The non-compliance penalty at the federal level is $0.00; however, the mandate is still a part of the law.)

MEC also satisfies California’s Individual Health Care Mandate (effective 1/1/2020), which requires Californians to have qualifying health insurance or pay a fine to the California Franchise Tax Board.
MEC is also the type of coverage an ALE must offer to full time employees and their dependents to avoid the ACA’s non-compliance penalties.

Broadly, MEC is any type of medical group benefit offered to employees by an employer, in addition to other types of medical health plans.


  • Job-based Medical coverage
  • Individual and Family market Health Insurance policies (Marketplace plans)
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program)
  • TRICARE or Veterans Administration (Military coverage)

MEC does not include: vision-only, dental-only, workers’ compensation, plans that offer only discounts on medical services, or coverage only for a specific disease or condition.