What is Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act?
Obamacare is the shorthand name for the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.
This wide-reaching law does many things, but most significantly it:
- protects consumers -- for example, by requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions and preventing them from arbitrarily canceling your coverage
- allows states to expand Medicaid coverage
- creates marketplaces (also called "exchanges") for health insurance plans that meet the requirements of the ACA, and
- establishes new funding for public health and prevention.
Until 2019, the law also required most U.S. citizens and legal residents to have health insurance or, if they didn't, to pay a tax penalty. Beginning in 2019, however, the penalty goes away in all states except those that have enacted their own penalties. Currently, the list of states with health insurance requirements includes California, D.C., Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
At ObamacareByZipCode, we focus on helping you understand how the Affordable Care Act works in Iowa, to help you get the coverage you need.
Here are some topics that answer frequently asked questions about Obamacare.