The Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed through the United States Congress and was signed into law in 2010. Since that time, a number of changes have been made to the entire health-insurance system, not only in terms of greater access to insurance, but also with how insurance will be regulated and minimum standards of coverage.
The ACA was created to accomplish many goals. These include:
New consumer protections, which put consumer information online, prohibit denying coverage for children based on pre-existing conditions, prohibit taking away coverage as a result of a technical error, eliminate lifetime limits for coverage, and more.
Improving quality and lowering costs, which addresses such items as giving tax credits for small businesses that provide health insurance benefits for their workers, relieving the expense of Medicare’s Part D (prescription plan) “donut hole,” providing free preventive care, and “cracking down” on healthcare fraud.
Increasing access to affordable care, with initiatives such as those that provide access to insurance for uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions, extending coverage for young adults, expanding coverage for early retirees, rebuilding the primary-care workforce (to increase the number of doctors, nurses, and physician assistants), and many other vital improvements in the healthcare system.
Holding insurance companies accountable, by bringing down healthcare premiums, addressing overpayments, and strengthening Medicare Advantage plans.
Many of these important changes were put into effect during the 2010 through 2014 time period, but some improvements continue to be made in 2015 and beyond. For an overview of the individual changes and a timeline, please visit Changes Made by the ACA. For a complete list of changes, please visit http://hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/timeline/timeline-text.html