ACA is the abbreviation for Affordable Care Act.  The ACA is often referred to as Obamacare.  This is the law enacted in 2010 that has drastically helped reform the healthcare system in the United States. In this blog we will go into exactly how does the ACA work.  We will investigate the reason it was designed and what it has done for the Americans who have enrolled in the ACA marketplace health insurance plans. 

The main goal of the ACA was to expand access to affordable healthcare for all Americans.  Many of them who in the past could not afford quality healthcare can now afford it because of the ACA.  This was accomplished through a variety of changes including payment assistance based on income, Medicaid expansion, and not allowing insurance carriers to discriminate based on health status. 

The ACA brought about the creation of Health Insurance Marketplaces.  These are often referred to as exchanges.  Some states have their own independent exchange, but most states choose to be part of the federal government’s exchange.  These exchanges allow individuals and families to shop online for a health insurance plan available in the area that they live.  The marketplace shows plans based on household income for all the health insurance carriers that participate in the ACA for each specific zip code.  For those who have household income between 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and 400% they can qualify for payment assistance from the government.  Many of these households qualify for a plan that costs less than $10 per month and sometimes the plan is free.   

Another key component of the ACA is the expansion of Medicaid.  Medicaid has been around for a long time and has provided free health coverage to typically children and young adults.  However, with Medicaid expansion the income amount is higher than it was before to qualify.  This has helped many children and young adults to have access to health coverage that they did not qualify for before the ACA was enacted.  Medicaid expansion is not a nationwide law.  Some specific states have decided to not participate in it.

The ACA also has built into it additional protections to help Americans from being discriminated against based on health status.  In the past a health insurance carrier could mark up the premium or deny coverage based on an insured’s health status.  For example, if an individual had cancer or diabetes the insurance carrier could charge them a higher premium, not offer coverage at all, or not cover that specific pre-existing health issue.  With the enactment of the ACA all Americans with pre-existing health issues are afforded the same coverage and cost as those without pre-existing health issues of the same age. 

The law also expanded the age limit to 26 for parents to keep their children on their health insurance plan.  This has helped younger people who otherwise may not be able to afford coverage to stay insured. 

The ACA has been a game changing healthcare law that continues to help millions of Americans afford quality healthcare. 

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