ObamaCare is the unofficial name for The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Obamacare's health care reform does a number of important things including offering Americans a number of new benefits, rights, and protections in regards to their healthcare and setting up a Health Insurance Marketplace where Americans can purchase federally regulated and subsidized health insurance.
You've heard of ObamaCare, but what is ObamaCare exactly?
ObamaCare is a US law aimed at reforming the American health care system. ObamaCare's main focus is on providing more Americans with access to affordable health insurance, improving the quality of health care and health insurance, regulating the health insurance industry, and reducing health care spending in the US.
What does it do for people?
The stated purpose is to "increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care." The most widely relevant and talked-about parts are that no one will be excluded from getting insurance, and everyone will have to get insurance.
Insurance companies can't refuse to cover people like they used to, and they can't revoke coverage when people get sick. People won't be forced to pay extra for insurance because of pre-existing conditions. There will be a limit on how much insurance companies can legally profit, and they will eventually have to cover all kinds of preventive care.
Get access to affordable health insurance
ObamaCare helps tens of millions of Americans get access to affordable health insurance through expanding Medicaid and CHIP, improving Medicare and setting up a "Health Insurance Marketplace" where Americans making under 400% of the federal poverty level can purchase subsidized health insurance. ObamaCare's reforms also increase the quality of care and help to curb the growth in healthcare spending among other things.
ObamaCare's provisions regulate insurance companies and health care standards, but they don't regulate your health care or replace private insurance. ObamaCare lowers what most middle-to-low income Americans pay for health insurance and their out-of-pocket health care costs (by means of cost-assistance offered through the marketplace), decreases the deficit and improves government run health care programs like Medicare by cutting out wasteful spending. ObamaCare also expands Medicaid in some States to cover 15.9 million uninsured seniors and low-income individuals.
Individual Mandate. Most Americans will have to buy insurance by 2014. Those who aren't covered under Medicaid, CHIP or Medicare will have the option to buy private insurance, obtain insurance through the workplace, pay a small tax to not have health insurance (this helps it remain affordable for the rest of us) or buy private insurance through the their State's Health Insurance Exchange. (There are other types of coverage that count as having insurance and will ensure you avoid the fee these include things like TRICARE and COBRA)