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Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance Marketplace

In March 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law. The law makes preventive care -- including family planning and related services -- more accessible and affordable for many Americans. While some provisions of the law have already taken effect, many more provisions will be implemented in the coming years.

The ACA addresses many different issues related to healthcare. Some of the key features of the Act are: Prohibiting Denying Coverage of Children Based on Pre-Existing Conditions; Eliminating Lifetime Limits on Insurance Coverage; Providing Access to Insurance for Uninsured Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions; Extending Coverage for Young Adults; Offering Prescription Drug Discounts; and Linking Payment to Quality Outcomes, as well as many other provisions. (For a list of provisions and a timeline for implementation please visit http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/timeline/timeline-text.html)

Perhaps the most notable provision under the ACA is the establishment of the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Health Insurance Marketplace is designed to make buying health coverage easier and more affordable. Starting on October 1, 2013, the Marketplace will allow individuals and small businesses to compare health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for tax credits for private insurance or health programs like the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in a health plan that meets their needs. With one Marketplace application, you can learn if you can get lower costs based on your income, compare your coverage options side-by-side, and enroll.

Individuals who wish to compare plans and purchase insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace can do so by enrolling either by phone, on-line, by mail or in person at select locations.

Last Updated: 9/30/2013