What is the ACA?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which President Barack Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010, created “comprehensive reforms that improve access to affordable health coverage for everyone and protect consumers from abusive insurance company practices” (The White House, 2014).  According to census data from 2009, 50.7 million Americans were uninsured (DeParle, 2010).  The ACA will allow millions of these Americans to receive health insurance coverage, some for the very first time in their lives.

This law also ends discrimination by insurance companies because of pre-existing conditions, ends limits on care by outlawing annual or lifetime limits, and ends coverage cancellations that used to allow insurance companies to drop a consumer once they became sick or if they make a technical mistake on their application (The White House, 2014).  Other landmark reforms include “requiring insurance companies to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26” and coverage for “recommended preventive services, including mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations, pre-natal and new baby care without charging deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance” (DeParle, 2010).

According to HealthCare.gov, “all private health insurance plans offered in the Marketplace will offer the same set of 10 essential health benefits”, regardless of coverage level or the cost of the plan.  “The essential health benefits include at least the following items and services: ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital), emergency services, hospitalization (such as surgery), maternity and newborn care (care before and after your baby is born), mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy), prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills), laboratory services, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, and pediatric services” (U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at HealthCare.gov, 2014).





DeParle, Nancy-Ann. “The Affordable Care Act Helps America’s Uninsured | The White House.” WhiteHouse.gov. N. p., 16 Sept. 2010. Web. 6 May 2014.

The White House. “Health Care That Works for Americans | The White House.” WhiteHouse.gov. N. p., 2014. Web. 6 May 2014.

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “What Does Marketplace Health Insurance Cover, Essential Health Benefits.” HealthCare.gov. N. p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2014.



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