What exactly is in the Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare”?

When Republicans talk about repealing and replacing the Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, what exactly are they talking about? Since the Obama administration has not done a great job of communicating to the public exactly what is in this law, the following highlights of specific parts of the law should help:

The law allows the Food and Drug Administration to approve more generic drugs, making for more competition in the market to drive down prices.

The law increases rebates on drugs people get through Medicare, so drugs cost less for Medicare recipients.

The law establishes a non-profit group (PCORI) — that the government does not directly control — to study different kinds of treatments to see what works better and is the best use of money.

Effective 8/1/2012 the law requires health plans to provide preventive procedures, like colonoscopies and mammograms, without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge.

Effective 1/1/2013 the law requires on incomes of $200,000 or more a tax increase of 0.9% to help pay for implementation of the health care act.

Effective 1/1/2014 the law prevents insurers from rejecting people or charging them more money on the basis of their having a “pre-existing condition”. People will be charged the same regardless of their medical history.

Effective 1/1/2014 the law requires that if you can afford insurance but do not get it, you will be charged a fee. This is the “mandate” that people are talking about. Basically, it’s a trade-off for the “pre-existing conditions” bit, saying that since insurers now have to cover you regardless of what you have, you can’t just wait to buy insurance until you get sick. Otherwise no one would buy insurance until they needed it. You can opt not to get insurance, but you’ll have to pay the fee instead, unless you are not buying insurance because you simply cannot afford it.

Effective 1/1/2014 the law raises the low-income level for eligibility to receive Medicaid, so that more poor people can get Medicaid.

Effective 1/1/2014 the law prevents insurers from putting limits on annual spending per customer. Their customers can get as much health care in a given year as they need.

Effective 1/1/2014 the law implements tax credits for small businesses for two years, in order to help them implement health plans for employees.

Effective 1/1/2014 the law requires that businesses with over 50 employees must offer health insurance to full-time employees, or pay a penalty.

Effective 1/1/2014 the law limits how high of an annual deductible insurers can charge customers.

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