The Affordable Healthcare Act: What it is. What it isn’t

President Obama's signature on the affordable healthcare act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed March 23, 2010. Enrollment in the program began Tuesday, October 1st. However there is much confusion about the new law—what exactly does it entail?
What it is.
The Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are the exact same thing. It would seem obvious, but a recent Jimmy Kimmel bit shows there is some confusion.
People interviewed by the shows staff were treating the two titles as separate entities despite the fact that “Obamacare” is just a (initially irreverent) nickname given to the ACA.
When one man was asked on Kimmel’s show if the ACA was more affordable than Obamacare he quickly responded in the affirmative, “Just the name says it all.”
A CNBC poll demonstrated a similar confusion as Steve Liesman explained, “29 percent of the public supports Obamacare compared with 22 percent who support ACA. Forty-six percent oppose Obamacare and 37 percent oppose ACA. So putting Obama in the name raises the positives and the negatives.”
The ACA comes with purchasing options—four to be precise: the insurance levels are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. They differ in monthly premiums and coverage levels (the higher the premium the more medical coverage). Percentage-wise this means bronze will cover 60%, silver, 70%, gold 80%, and platinum 90% of medical expenses.
The ACA is a law that guarantees insurers won’t charge women higher rates, that patient coverage cannot be blocked due to pre-existing conditions, and provides dental and vision coverage for children in their insurance plans.
The ACA is mandatory for the uninsured. The fine for those who do not pay in is $95 or 1% of annual income depending on which is higher. If your income is low enough to not warrant a tax return you may be exempt—and can possibly be eligible for Medicaid.
What it isn’t
The new law is not universal healthcare as Cameron Keng explains in his Forbes article titled, “ObamaCare (Affordable Care Act) Is Not An Insurance Or Healthcare Problem:” Universal healthcare is different in every country and it’s not very well understood by Americans, but the important thing to understand or know is that ObamaCare is a “compulsory insurance act.” Healthcare is not free. Everyone is required to have (buy) insurance, so everyone is supposed to have “affordable healthcare coverage.”
It is not, “European socialist-style” healthcare as chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus refers to the new law.
The ACA is not including the “public option.” That portion of the bill was dropped back in 2009. The public option would have been a government run insurance plan that would compete on the market with private insurance.
Interestingly enough there is one city in The United States that has the public option available, San Francisco, which has had the policy since 2008.
The ACA does not reflect the “single-payer option” either. That form of coverage would mean that everyone in The United States would be covered by government run insurance—much like our Canadian friends to the north.
Lastly the ACA is not the harbinger of “death panels” a phrase coined by Sarah Palin on her Facebook page in 2009. The former governor of Alaska was referring to The Independent Payment Advisory Board which in reality is prohibited from determining which individuals are, or are not worthy of health coverage.

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