International Explainer: Obamacare

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law by Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. With Donald Trump now in office and looking to repeal the act, it is important to examine what exactly ‘Obamacare’ was and why it was and remains important to so many Americans. 

Q. What is Obamacare and what does it do?

A. The full name of the statute is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA for short), and it represents the most significant overhaul of the US healthcare system since the 1960s. The main changes to the previous healthcare system was to the individual insurance market which were radically overhauled.

The aim of Obamacare was to extend health insurance coverage to the estimated 15% of the population who lacked it. Those people received no coverage from their employers and are not covered by US health programmes for the poor and elderly. To achieve this aim, the law requires all Americans to have health insurance but offers subsidies to make insurance more affordable.

Obamacare also requires businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to offer health insurance.

The law created state-run marketplaces where individuals can compare prices when they look to purchase coverage. Some states chose not to participate, and so their residents can compare prices on a marketplace run by the federal government instead.

In addition to these changes, the law also bans insurance companies from denying health coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, allows young people to remain on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, and expands eligibility for the Medicaid health programme for the poor.

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Sub-Editor for the Wessex Scene 2016/17. English and History student

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