ObamaCareFacts.com – Providing Facts on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Since 2012
ObamaCare Facts is an independent website. Get the facts on healthcare and health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (also known as ObamaCare).
We have been an independent source of information on the Affordable Care Act since 2012 (see the 2012 version of ObamaCareFacts.com). We do not have a direct relationship with any health insurance or healthcare providers, and we are not affiliated with the federal government or the official HealthCare.gov website.
What is ObamaCare?
ObamaCare is a nickname for the healthcare law called The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). It is sometimes called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short.
FACT: The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Despite some changes, many repeal attempts, and a few major court cases (including an ongoing court case), the ACA is still the “law of the land” today.
What Does ObamaCare Do?
The Affordable Care Act aims to increase the quality, availability, and affordability of private and public health insurance to tens of millions of uninsured Americans through its many provisions, which include new regulations, taxes, mandates, and subsidies.
The law also works toward curbing the growth in healthcare spending in the US, which has been rising at an unsustainable rate.
More specifically, ObamaCare offers a number of new benefits, rights, and protections. Here are some links to more detailed information regarding different components of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
- Letting young adults stay on their parents’ plan until 26
- Stopping insurance companies from denying you coverage or charging you more based on health status
- Stopping insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick or if you make an honest mistake on your application
- Preventing gender discrimination
- Stopping insurance companies from imposing unjustified rate hikes
- Doing away with lifetime and annual dollar limits
- Giving you the right to a rapid appeal of insurance company decisions
- Expanding coverage to tens of millions by subsidizing health insurance costs through the Health Insurance Marketplaces (HealthCare.Gov and the state-run Marketplaces)
- Expanding Medicaid to millions in states that chose to expand the program
- Providing tax breaks to small businesses for offering health insurance to their employees
- Requiring large businesses to insure employees
- Requiring all insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions
- Making CHIP easier for kids to get
- Improving Medicare for seniors
- Ensuring all plans cover minimum benefits like limits on cost-sharing and ten essential benefits including free preventive care, OB-GYN services with no referrals, free birth control, and coverage for emergency room visits out-of-network
TIP: Get more ObamaCare Facts on our ObamaCare Facts page.
How To Understand ObamaCare and Safely Enroll In A Plan With Cost Assistance
Each year under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) Americans can get health coverage and cost assistance based on income by signing up for a plan during open enrollment.
Open enrollment is the only time of year all Americans have access to guaranteed issue health coverage regardless of their income or health status!
- Each year open enrollment goes from Nov 1st to Dec 15th in most states.
- For example, Obamacare’s Open Enrollment season for 2021 coverage started Nov 1st, 2020 and ended Dec 15th, 2020 in most states.
- Plans purchased during open enrollment 2021 start as soon as Jan 1, 2021!
Outside of open enrollment coverage options are limited to short term coverage, Medicaid/CHIP, and special enrollment options for those with qualifying life events (Medicare and employer coverage both have unique enrollment periods).
Open enrollment season is a short period of time for more than 15 million individuals and families without access to other coverage types to sign up for health insurance.
Don’t procrastinate, enroll in coverage as early as possible each year during open enrollment. The longer you want, the closer you get to the enrollment deadline.
Otherwise, keep reading to find out more about shopping for coverage.
ObamaCare Special Enrollment 2021: There will be a special enrollment period from February 15, 2021 – May 15, 2021. This will apply to anyone using HealthCare.Gov and may apply to other states.
TIP: The fee for not having coverage is $0 in most states for 2019 forward, however, some states do have state-based mandates.
Getting Coverage With Cost Assistance Under the Affordable Care Act
There are a couple of different options for getting coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
- Enroll online, over the phone, or in-person with an assister through the government exchange Healthcare.Gov (or HC.gov for short). A simple and smart choice if you know you qualify for cost assistance.
- Enroll online, over the phone, or in-person with the assistance of a HC.gov marketplace approved broker. A great choice for finding out all your options since marketplace approved brokers can help sign you up for a marketplace plan with cost assistance and can show you plans not sold on the marketplace (like short term plans).
- Or, enroll online, over the phone, or in-person with the assistance of a non-approved broker. A solid choice for non-marketplace options like short term plans.
The marketplace assisters and marketplace approved brokers can both sign you up for a plan with cost assistance. All these plans are highly regulated, and that means that the price you pay, be it through a HC.gov approved broker, or HC.gov itself, are exactly the same.
Meanwhile, in terms of coverage for individuals and families in the private market, non-approved brokers can only sell you limited benefit short term plans. These plans are not highly regulated and can fluctuate in price, benefits, and even eligibility. These plans may be right for you, but it is important to understand your options!
The cool thing is, a HC.gov approved broker can help you understand all your options due to the fact that they can sell short term and marketplace plans.
When it comes to finding private brokers we work with a consumer-focused company called HealthNetwork. They have been helping people to safely enroll with HC.gov approved brokers since 2013 and like us are committed to putting people over profits.
In short, you can keep life simple and go to HealthCare.gov, or you can contact HealthNetwork and they will hook you up with a broker who can help you enroll in a healthcare.gov plan AND show you alternative options… or you can take this information and go find a broker yourself! Feel free to ask us any questions.
Be careful with lead forms: If you don’t use our site to find a broker, you’ll want to be very careful searching around and filling out forms related to health insurance online. There are a lot of spammers who target the term “Obamacare.” We have worked hard to keep the scammers off our site, but if you go out into the wild looking for brokers, make sure you are using a site you can trust. Giving your information away without caution can lead to getting spam phone calls.
Why trust us? ObamaCareFacts.com has helped nearly 40 million Americans learn about the Affordable Care Act and cost assistance options since 2012 and has been used as a resource by a number of national news outlets including:
TIP: Want to see what else the team behind ObamaCareFacts.com is up to? We also have a free-to-use plan finder and informational site for Medicare called MedicarePolicyHelper.com.
What Has Changed With Obamacare in 2021
A lot has changed with the Affordable Care Act under Trump (2017 and into 2020), and there are likely more changes on the way under Biden in 2021. First of all, there were changes to the core of the ACA and how it works under Trump.
- Since January 1st, 2019, the ACA tax penalty for not having health insurance coverage has officially been reduced to zero in most states. Consumer warning: some states may take measures on a state level to reverse this.
- Operational budget cuts, as well as funding for marketing and outreach, along with some HC.gov contractors not having their contracts renewed for call center service support, means it could be more difficult to enroll through the HC.gov over the phone.
- There is however now going to be seamless support for WBE (web-based brokers) to directly enroll consumers into Obamacare-compliant on-exchange plans in a very seamless manner. This is one positive that will help ensure that an extension for open-enrollment will not be required.
- Short-term health insurance regulations have been stripped back. Depending on where you get your news from, this could be perceived as both good and bad for consumers long term.
- One bit of good news, however, is rates have been dropping in many states recently.
FACT: Early reports showed rates dropping by 4% on average on marketplace plans for 2020!
The prices you’ll find in your state, or more specifically your county, will have a range. Some carriers will be more costly than others, and some may offer a better range of services that come with their plan. We advise that you check back into this site frequently as we get closer and closer to open-enrollment. Unless you have a qualifying life event, you can not change plans or sign up for an Obamacare plan until November 1st of each year.
We strongly advise that you check back on November 1st of each year, or use the Obamacare Enrollment form, to update your household information and compare rates for Obamacare for the upcoming open enrollment season.
There is So Much More to Cover
We only scratched the surface of what our site covers above. Every aspect of what the Affordable Care Act is and how to get enrolled with cost assistance is detailed on our site. Feel free to look around and ask questions. If you want to know something about ObamaCare, chances are we have covered it.
NOTE: Although we don’t have direct relationships with insurers, we do have ads on our site (like the rest of the internet). We have specifically attempted to partner with brokers who use “best practices” when connecting you with insurers. Our goal is to protect consumers and ensure everyone has a good ACA experience regardless of how they shop. Read more about getting health insurance quotes here. Make sure to contact us if you have any sort of negative experience.
ObamaCare Facts: Helping America Navigate the Affordable Care Act