Like most Americans, you’ve probably heard of “Obamacare,” but you’re not exactly sure what it is. According to your uncle’s Facebook posts, it sounds pretty scary, like maybe it’s going to turn America into a Kenyan Soviet Union or something.
Well, good news: Obamacare is probably not going to do that! What a relief, huh? What other mysteries about the new health-care law can we clear up for you? Huffington Post health care reporter Jeffrey Young has 14 answers, for starters:
1. What is Obamacare, exactly?
“Obamacare” is a nickname for the Affordable Care Act, a controversial law Congress passed and President Obama signed in 2010. To the chagrin of Republican opponents, who are still trying to kill the law, the Supreme Court declared it constitutional in 2012.
Its goal is to get health insurance to more Americans, 48 million of whom currently don’t have any. This includes making it easier for people who aren’t insured through work to buy their own insurance.
Obamacare also ends some notorious insurance practices. Now insurers can’t exclude people with pre-existing conditions, can’t kick patients off their plans when they run up big medical bills, and can’t set dollar limits on how much care they’ll cover. The law also says consumers’ out-of-pocket costs generally can’t exceed $6,350 for a single person or $12,700 for a family in a year. If a serious illness or accident creates costs above that amount, insurance pays all the bills.
Obamacare also sets “minimum essential benefits” every insurance plan must cover, including prescription drugs and maternity care. Many plans today don’t include such benefits. Health screenings and birth control are available at no cost when you get them.