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Initially enacted in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as “Obamacare,” seeks to provide more citizens with affordable health insurance than existing government aid offers. However, the program is not based on a novel idea. The ACA reconstructs Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to make them more inclusive for citizens. Not only does the ACA attempt to make health insurance readily available, but the new law also aims to lower the cost of health care in general. This concern prompted the U.S. Congress to promote the ACA as the solution to the health care dilemma. The ACA also seeks to improve the quality of care for American citizens and broaden eligibility and enrollment policies.

What is the Affordable Care Act?

President Obama pushed for health care reform during his presidency in 2010 and the ACA was officially recognized and put into effect in 2014, after all amendments had been made. The new law altered how citizens obtained health insurance, which health care providers they could utilize and when they could purchase health insurance. The ACA expanded the standard requirements for Medicaid eligibility, allowing citizens with slightly higher incomes to receive health insurance through the ACA. Additionally, citizens were guaranteed coverage regardless of their past medical histories or their previous health insurance situations. Residents should research their states’ policies regarding transferring health insurance plans or notifying insurances of a chronic condition. The goals of the ACA were to strengthen medical practices by encouraging innovation and reducing complications that arise due to insurance unaccountability or lack of health care choices. However, not all states have expanded their Medicaid programs to meet the ACA’s guidelines.

Learn more about the Affordable Care Act and how it relates to Medicaid by downloading our free guide.

Learn About Affordable Care Act Coverage and Benefits

Under the ACA, citizens will receive coverage and benefits similar to what the Medicaid program offers, but with some additions. For example, Medicaid insurance covers and guarantees nursing facility services, laboratory testing and home transportation, but the ACA enables citizens to more easily attain prescription drug coverage, hospice for children and preventative services. The ACA has also established an optional state benefit plan, Health Homes, which coordinates care for patients with chronic conditions. These optional coverage benefits may not be available to all citizens, depending on state laws.

What was the controversy surrounding the Affordable Care Act?

The ACA has both supporters and critics. While the ACA originally passed with little rebuttal legislatively due to the democratic majority in the Senate, the program now faces opposition. Businesses that had been required to provide health insurance under ACA legislation have suffered economically as insurance premiums have increased annually.

All citizens must have health insurance under the ACA. However, citizens must pay private insurance companies a fee or file an exemption to satisfy the law in states that do not accept the alterations the ACA made to the Medicaid Program. Because of this opposition, some ACA repeal bills have been proposed, but no verdict has been reached.

Find out more about the ACA and its Medicaid changes by reading our free guide.