About the Health Care Law

What is the Health Care Law?

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as the Health Care Law. The new Health Care Law is the biggest change in health care since Medicare and Medicaid were formed in 1965. This law is aimed at providing Americans access to more affordable and higher quality health care.

Health Care Reform Changes & Requirements

The Health Care Law changes the way millions of Americans buy and use health insurance. In fact, the Health Care Law affects most people and groups that are part of the health care system. That includes individuals, businesses, health insurers, hospitals, doctors, and others.

Here are some of the ways the Health Care Law will change the health care environment:

  • People are required to have health insurance as of January 1, 2014, or face penalties.
  • Health plans offered to people who purchase health insurance on their own and those who receive small group insurance must include 10 core services, known as Essential Health Benefits. In Pennsylvania, small groups are defined as those with 50 or fewer employees. Learn more about how Health Care Reform affects small businesses.
  • Employees must work at least 30 hours per week to be considered full-time. Employers that provide health insurance must offer coverage to all full-time employees working full-time.
  • Many single people and working families will receive financial assistance from the government to help pay for their health care costs. This financial assistance, called a subsidy, is available to many people, including those who the government did not help before. Find out if you might be eligible for a subsidy.
  • Many state Medical Assistance programs, also known as Medicaid, are expanding by offering health plans to more people who are uninsured.
  • Another way to buy health insurance: the Health Insurance Marketplace. This online website is helping individuals and small businesses buy their health plans. Those who get health insurance through large employers need to use the Marketplace. If you don’t have to buy health insurance through the Marketplace, you can shop directly from Independence Blue Cross.
  • Health insurers cannot deny health coverage or charge more for health plans for those who are sick, have a pre-existing health condition, or have a chronic health problem.
  • There is no lifetime limit on how much insurers spend on essential health benefits. Annual limits on these essential benefits were eliminated in 2014.
  • Rates for individual and small group plans are based on age, geographic region, whether members use tobacco, and the plan selected.
  • Parents can continue to insure their adult children until those children reach the age of 26.