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Health Care Reform

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Overview

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as the Affordable Care Act or ACA, was signed into federal law in March 2010, as part of Health Care Reform. The intent of the law was to decrease the number of uninsured Americans, improve the quality of care, and enhance patient safety.

The law currently includes the following:

  • Extended Coverage for Young Adults: Children are allowed to stay on their parent's’ plan until they turn 26 years old.
  • Free Preventive Care: Plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without any patient out-of-pocket costs.
  • Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit: Eligible small businesses may use tax credit to help provide insurance benefits to their employees.
  • Elimination of Lifetime Limits: Lifetime dollar limits on essential health benefits are no longer allowed.
  • Individual Requirement to Have Insurance: U.S. citizens and legal residents were required to have health insurance through the 2018 coverage year or pay a penalty. The mandated penalty is not in effect for the 2019 coverage year and thereafter.

Explore an interactive timeline, courtesy of Kaiser Family Foundation.

Many low-income individuals and families are eligible for subsidies and tax credits to help cover the costs of purchasing health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, also called the Exchange. It provides health insurance options and application assistance to those needing to purchase health insurance. Please visit for more information.

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