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Affordable Care Act (ACA)

What is the Affordable Care Act?

What is the ACA?

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.

2022 Guide to ACA Open Enrollment

What provisions are included under the ACA legislation?

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.

How did the ACA focus on improving the quality of individual health insurance?

The ACA:

  • implemented coverage standards that prevent insurers from discriminating against applicants – or charging them higher plan premiums – based on pre-existing conditions or gender;
  • eliminated waiting periods that employer-sponsored plans would impose before starting coverage of pre-existing conditions;
  • made health policies guaranteed issue – meaning health coverage is guaranteed to be issued to applicants regardless of their health status, age or income;
  • mandated minimum-value standards for employer-sponsored plans offered by large employers;
  • rescued ACA-compliant plan buyers from lifetime benefit limits and annual benefit limits;
  • improved plan benefits by requiring ACA-compliant plans to include essential health benefits;
  • required ACA-compliant plans to include a long list of free preventive health care services.

How does the ACA make individual health insurance more affordable?

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.

How do consumers buy ACA health insurance?

Consumers can use Obamacare’s health insurance marketplaces (or exchanges) to easily compare the benefits and costs of ACA-compliant / qualified health plans. Plans are categorized under metal level classifications based on actuarial value – and catastrophic plans are also available to eligible enrollees.

When can Americans enroll in ACA-compliant health plans?

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.

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