Implementing Obama Health Care: What Is It, What’s Happened so Far, and What’s Going to Happen Next?

obama_health_careSigned into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, Obama health care, officially known as the Affordable Care Act or by its more informal name “Obamacare,” sought to establish sweeping health-care reforms. Set to unfold over several years’ time, these changes seek to give citizens access to health care regardless of income or pre-existing conditions, among other factors. The plan continues to slowly roll out mostly on schedule, with some delays.

What benefits has the Obama health care plan offered so far?

  • Children cannot be denied coverage because they have pre-existing conditions.
  • Insurance coverage cannot be withdrawn if you’ve made an error on your application, as was previously true.
  • Services like colonoscopies, mammograms, and other preventative tests and services will be covered without co-pays.
  • Specific people with pre-existing conditions can now have insurance access.
  • Young adults can stay on parents’ insurance until 26 years old.
  • Primary care physicians are receiving increased Medicaid payments.

Component of the plan delayed until 2015


Implementation of one aspect of the Affordable Care Act, the large employer requirement, has recently been delayed until 2015. When in effect, large employers with more than 50 employees will need to provide affordable insurance coverage for their employees, or face penalties.

What does Obama health care mean for you?

Although businesses (and some individuals) are worried about increased costs under Obama’s plan, proponents say that for most people, it will only be beneficial. Some benefits:

  • Lower costs for most

The Health Insurance Marketplace will be available for families, individuals without employer-provided insurance, and small businesses to get coverage; open enrollment begins on October 1, 2013. What individuals will pay, for example, will depend on income, family size, and out of pocket cost for private insurance, as applicable. Some citizens may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or through Medicaid. (All citizens are eligible for coverage through the Marketplace regardless of where they live.)

  • Essential health benefits covered without exception

All plans covered through the Marketplace must offer comprehensive coverage of so-called “essential health benefits.” These include preventative care, hospitalization, doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and more.

  • Coverage for those with pre-existing conditions

pregnantYou can no longer be denied coverage or be charged more for health insurance because you have a pre-existing condition. This includes pregnancy or disability.

What rights and protections exist for citizens in regard to the Obama health care law?

The Affordable Care Act (Obama health care) protects citizens in the following way:

  • The aforementioned Healthcare Marketplace allows all citizens access to coverage.
  • Pre-existing health conditions must now be covered by insurance companies.
  • Insurance companies will be accountable for rate increases and won’t simply be able to set increases arbitrarily.
  • Your health insurance can no longer be canceled simply because you get sick – it’s illegal for health insurance companies to do so under the new law.
  • You have access to free preventive care.
  • Essential health benefits no longer have lifetime or yearly dollar limits in regard to coverage.
  • If you don’t agree with a health plan decision, you have the right to appeal it (your rights may vary depending on the state you live in).

Are there any drawbacks to Obama health care?

If it is deemed that you can afford specific coverage based upon your income level and you don’t purchase it, you may be assessed a fine of $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is greater. However, a tax credit called the Advance Premium Tax Credit is offered based upon income level (the 2013 cut off for the premium savings is $45,960 for individuals). This credit is meant to help offset the cost of premiums, and is applied directly to monthly premiums immediately, resulting in lower costs right away.


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