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A User's Guide To The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Summary: Overall


This article provides an overview of the Affordable Care Act which is often referred to as Obamacare (or Health Reform 2010). For this article, we will refer to the law as the Act.

Thanks to the Act, health insurance is now obtainable, without increased premium, by people with a health condition. Health insurance is also easy to obtain through  All plans offered through the exchanges are required to have minimum standardized benefits.

In fact, most U.S. citizens and legal immigrants are now required to have health insurance. There are features of the law aimed at helping make health insurance affordable.

The following features encourage people to get coverage:

  • Penalties for not having health insurance.
  • Premium and cost-sharing credits for people who cannot afford the premiums.

Medicaid has been expanded in states that have agreed to the expansion.

The Act also:

  • Encourages wellness. For instance, 
    • Health plans have to include coverage for preventive tests. 
    • Employers are encouraged to add wellness benefits. 
    • Chain restaurants and food sold from vending machines are required to disclose the nutritional content of each item.
  • Contains provisions for improving, or for studying how to improve, the quality of health care and the health care system that do not directly affect consumers.
  • Encourages employers to offer health insurance to employees.
  • Requires coverage for medical services related to clinical trials and provides that health plans cannot discriminate against participants in clinical trials.

The Act does not affect COBRA.

To find out how health care reform affects you based on your insurance status, click on the appropriate button.


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