Affordable Care Act Summarized

Affordable Care Act Summarized

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a health care reform bill that was signed into effect on March 23, 2010. The aim of the Affordable Care Act is to provide affordable health insurance for more Americans, which the ACA does through a series of regulations for the insurance industry, and expansion of federal health care programs and subsidies. This health care reform bill is a 955-page document that includes a host of changes for the industry, but the most important points for the average American are reasonably simple to grasp.

The Affordable Care Act Introduces Some Basic Requirements
The Affordable Care Act introduces some new regulations for insurers. The ACA:

  • Requires insurance companies to cover all applicants – insurers can’t deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition
  • Requires insurers to offer the same rates for individuals in a specific age range and region, regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex

This health care reform bill also sets up a Health Care Marketplace where families, small businesses and individuals can shop for health insurance. Insurers who offer policies through these state-run marketplaces must comply with ACA requirements.

For the American people, this health care reform bill also introduces an “individual mandate” – which requires that all individuals who don’t have health insurance must secure an approved policy or pay a tax penalty.

The ACA Offers Some Great Benefits
In addition to the requirements set forth in this bill, the ACA also offers some great benefits, including:

  • Establishes minimum standards for health insurance policies
  • Offers subsidies for very small businesses who purchase insurance through an exchange
  • Eliminates co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles for certain health care insurance benefits related to preventative care
  • Expands Medicaid eligibility to include more low-income individuals, and offers federal subsidies to help low income families get affordable health insurance.

The bulk of the changes instituted by the ACA go into effect in 2014, although some aspects of the ACA are being gradually introduced or phased in up through 2020.

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