What is ObamaCare? An Easy Guide to the Affordable Care Act

Published:7:51 pm EDT, November 16, 2013| Updated:4:50 pm EDT, February 21, 2014|
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It's not a surprise that ObamaCare, or as it is officially known, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is confusing citizens across the country. Between partisan news agencies bickering and the legislation clocking in at an astounding 906 pages, it's no wonder people have no idea what it actually does. If you want to scroll through the legislation you can do that below.

Here is a quick guide to understanding what the legislation said and how it will affect you:


1. It Created New Rules, But No New Institutions

Let's get something straight, you cannot "get" ObamaCare. ObamaCare, as it's called, is a piece of legislation that changes how health insurance is bought sold, what health insurance companies offer, and most importantly, whether or not you can have health insurance.



2. You Are Now Legally Required to Have Health Insurance

This is the biggest source of contention in the entire ObamaCare debate. The legislation, passed all the back in 2010, legally requires all U.S. Citizens to have health insurance. This mandate, established in section 1501 and 1502 in the legislation below, requires all citizens to have a minimum coverage or face a fine of $95 or 1 percent of income. Opponents of the bill challenged the constitutionality of this section and, after a prolonged case, the Supreme Court decided that the the bill could move forward as written because the government has the right to levy taxes on the population as it sees fit.

You can opt out of getting insurance, but be read to pay the fine.


3. You Do Not Have to Buy Insurance on Healthcare.gov

Part of the legislation, which you can see below, creates an online health insurance market place where a customer and compare prices and coverage while purchasing a plan. However, you do not have to do this. For the 85 percent of Americans who have health insurance, and even those who don't, buying insurance through healthcare.gov is helpful, but not necessary.

If you have an insurance provider you like, or would like to buy a plan straight from an insurance provider, you are more than welcome to.


4. You Can Keep Your Plan, But Your Plan Might Change

As ObamaCare opponents have been very forceful in pointing out, a lot of Americans have been loosing their pre-existing health insurance plans. Why?

Well, the "Patient Protection" part of the Affordable Care Act requires all health insurance plans to require a minimum number of services. Are you a woman not interested in having a baby any time soon? Well too bad. Under the new legislation health insurance companies are required to provide you with a number of services, which mean your pre-existing plan will have to include more things, and for the company to provide more services, it needs to raise the price.

However, President Obama said last week that he would attempt a change to the policy that would allow people to keep their pre-existing plans, as they were, for another year.


5. Pre-Existing Conditions and Insurance Prejudice Are Now Illegal

Before ObamaCare, the news was filled with horror stories about people being denied health insurance because they were pregnant, had medical conditions, or even because of their race or gender.

Now, the bulk of the legislation, which you can read below, goes to eliminating any risk of this happening. Insurance companies can no longer deny customers coverage because of pre-existing conditions or a persons relative risk of getting sick.

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