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Affordable Care Act (ACA)

What is the Affordable Care Act?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – also known as the Affordable Care Act or ACA, and generally referred to as Obamacare – is the landmark health reform legislation passed by the 111th Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010.

The legislation includes a long list of health-related provisions that began taking effect in 2010. Key provisions are intended to extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, to implement measures that will lower health care costs and improve system efficiency, and to eliminate industry practices that include rescission and denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

The law includes premium subsidies and cost-sharing subsidies designed to reduce the costs of coverage for Americans who qualify. (Find out if you’re eligible for subsidies with this subsidy calculator.) Millions also gained coverage due to the law’s expansion of Medicaid in many states.

Millions of American enroll in ACA-compliant health plans during an annual open enrollment period (OEP). However, many Americans can enroll outside of the OEP if they have a qualifying life event, which makes them eligible for a special enrollment period.