1. TurboTax /
  2. Tax Calculators & Tips /
  3. Tax Tips & Videos /
  4. ACA /
  5. How to Determine if You Have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

How to Determine if You Have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

Updated for Tax Year 2017


OVERVIEW

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare or ACA, requires most Americans to have health insurance that meets a government standard known as "minimum essential coverage," or MEC. Whether your insurance qualifies as MEC depends not on the plan itself, but on how you obtained your coverage.


Employer-provided plans

Under Obamacare, any health insurance plan offered to you by an employer qualifies as minimum essential coverage (MEC). So if you and your family get health insurance through a job, you should have MEC which includes:

  •  Coverage for current employees
  • Coverage for retirees
  • COBRA continuation coverage, which allows former employees to hold onto their health insurance for a certain period of time after leaving an employer

College students who get health insurance from their school while they're enrolled are also considered to have MEC.

Government plans

By definition, government health insurance programs provide minimum essential coverage (MEC). These programs include:

  • Medicare, which provides benefits to people over 65 and the disabled
  • Medicaid, which is for low-income people
  • Tricare, which covers military service members and their families
  • The Children's Health Insurance Program, or "CHIP," a federal-state effort to cover children and pregnant women in lower-income families
  • Veterans' health care benefits
  • Peace Corps volunteers' health insurance

Individual plans

An "individual" health insurance plan is one you buy directly from an insurance company. That makes it different from the "group" plans typically offered by employers.

The following types of individual health insurance plans also are automatically considered to offer minimum essential coverage (MEC):

  • Any individual health insurance plan you had before Obamacare went into effect and you were allowed to keep it
  • Any plan you bought through a state or federal online insurance marketplace set up under Obamacare

Other individual health insurance plans may also qualify. If in doubt, your insurance company should be able to tell you whether you have MEC.

What doesn't qualify

Certain health benefits don't count as MEC, even though they may seem like traditional health insurance in some ways. Examples of non-MEC benefits include:

  • Plans that provide only discounts on health care services
  • Plans that cover only dental care or vision
  • Care under workers' compensation plans
  • Plans that provide care only for a specific condition, rather than general medical coverage

Getting an Exemption

If you don't have minimum essential coverage (MEC), you must pay a penalty when you file your tax return. But, certain individuals and families can qualify for an exemption, which avoids the fee. If you qualify for an exemption, you can have non-MEC coverage—or no coverage at all. Among the situations that could get you an exemption:

  • Your income is so low that you aren't required to file a tax return
  • You can't find insurance that's cheaper than 8% of your income
  • You're a member of a religious group that objects to all forms of insurance
  • You are experiencing a financial hardship that makes it too expensive to get insurance

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99*
Sign In

Looking for more information?

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Absolute Zero $0 federal (1040EZ/1040A) + $0 state offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed: File your 2016 TurboTax Self-Employed return between 4/19/17 and 10/16/17 to receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed until 10/31/18. Activation by 12/31/17 required. Sign in to QuickBooks Self-Employed via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax; e-mail address used for activation and sign-in. Offer valid only for new QuickBooks Self-Employed customers. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison.
    • When you use TurboTax Self-Employed to file your 2017 taxes, you will have the option to renew your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription. If you do not purchase TurboTax Self-Employed by 10/15/18, you will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 10/31/18 for another year at the then-current annual subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section.
  • Pays for itself (TurboTax Self-Employed): Estimates based on deductible business expenses calculated at the self-employment tax income rate (15%) for tax year 2016. Actual results will vary based on your tax situation.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Expert Help, Tax Advice and SmartLook: Included with Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed (via phone or on-screen); not included with Federal Free Edition (but available for purchase with the Plus bundle). SmartLook on-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. TurboTax experts provide general advice, customer service and product help; tax advice provided only by credentialed CPAs, enrolled agents and tax attorneys. Feature availability varies by device. State tax advice is free. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Return Access, My Docs and My Analysis & Advice features: Access to all tax-related documents we have on file for you is available until you file your 2017 tax return or through 10/31/2018, whichever comes first. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.
  • #1 rated online tax prep provider: Based on independent comparison of the best online tax software by TopTenReviews.com March 13, 2017.
  • TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice via phone is included with Premier and Home & Business; fees apply for Basic and Deluxe customers. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2016 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies; may require a free Intuit online account. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2016 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2012 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.