All newly purchased individual and small group policies are required to be ACA-compliant, regardless of whether they are sold on or off-exchange. This has been the case since January 1, 2014. (Employees may still enroll in existing small-group plans that were in effect before 2014, but if a small business purchases a new plan in 2014, it must be ACA-compliant.)
ACA-compliant coverage refers to a major medical health insurance policy that conforms to the regulations set forth in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). These plans can be sold on or off the exchange, but all new individual major medical policies sold after January 1, 2014 are required to be ACA-compliant. This means they must include coverage for the ten essential benefits with no lifetime or annual benefit maximums, and must adhere to the consumer protections built into the law.
Note: Short term medical plans are NOT considered ACA compliant and subject to the penalty until the penalty expires in 2019.