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Obamacare Frequently Asked Questions

Confused about Obamacare?  Below are easy to understand responses to our most frequestly asked questions about Obamacare, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

One of the least-publicized aspects of the Affordable Care Act is the package of "essential health benefits" that must be included in any health insurance plan that is sold to individuals or businesses. These include such services as maternity and newborn care, hospitalization, ambulatory care and prescription drugs.

Ever since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was voted into law on March 23, 2010, the world of group health plans was divided into two – those that were adopted after the law was passed and "grandfathered" plans, which are largely exempt from the requirements of the law.

It’s safe to say that the majority of people who tell pollsters that they want government “out” of the healthcare business probably never had to purchase individual health insurance. As many have learned, the prospect of fending for oneself in the world of medical coverage is totally different than signing up for an employer’s group plan.  And no matter how bad Obamacare may sound to Republicans, conditions for self-employed individuals couldn’t have been much worse before Obamacare.

One of the most hotly debated and commonly misunderstood topics about Obamacare is the "Individual Mandate," which specifies that American must have health insurance. Often touted as a "big government takeover" of our healthcare system, the mandate was actually designed to help lower the cost of care and ultimately reduce the cost of insurance. Even after the Supreme Court ruled that it is constitutional to levy a tax against an "applicable individual" who fails to maintain health insurance coverage, opponents believe that they should not be required by the government to purchase anything.

When Obamacare was first enacted in 2009, there were certain provisions that went into effect immediately, but the major pieces of the legislation have been rolled out in phases.

Below is a timeline that shows when the most important elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare went into effect, as well as the portions of the law which are yet to be enacted.  (This timeline is limited to those parts of the law that impact consumers.)

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