Obamacare: the Affordable Care Act

Sweeping health reform legislation delivered a long list of provisions focused on health insurance affordability, consumer protections

Key takeways

What is Obamacare?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act and also known as Obamacare – is a sweeping piece of legislation passed by the 111th Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.

The law was intended to improve the affordability – and quality – of health insurance in the United States.

The law included more than 1,000 pages of provisions intended to make coverage affordable for and accessible to millions of Americans who struggled to pay for individual coverage – many of whom could not buy individual coverage at any price due to pre-existing medical conditions. The law sharply reduced the number of uninsured Americans, although the uninsured rate has started to creep upwards under the Trump administration’s watch.

Obamacare’s key provisions

The Affordable Care Act’s signature provisions included:

Here’s an extensive list of ways that the Affordable Care Act offered protection and affordable coverage for Americans.

The battle over Obamacare

From the earliest conversations about the Affordable Care Act, the law and its provisions have been vigorously opposed – and sabotaged – by Congressional Republicans.

The opposition has included numerous legal challenges over the ACA’s constitutionality (among them the Texas vs. Azar lawsuit) as well as piecemeal weakening of the law by President Donald Trump’s administration. Consumer advocates note that this sabotage has worsened coverage options and driven premiums upward.

ACA advocates have continued to battle to preserve the law’s consumer protections and coverage gains. At the same time, states have stepped up to preserve and strengthen the law’s provisions.


Steve Anderson, healthinsurance.org’s editor and content manager, has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2008. Steve is also co-founder and editor of medicareresources.org. In previous lives, he worked as a community journalist, public relations manager and director of public affairs. 

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