Affordable Care Act (ACA)

HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

The ACA was signed into law by President Obama in 2010. With this law, there was a major overhaul of the US health-care system– Obama aimed to reduce the amount of uncompensated care the average US family pays for by requiring everyone to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. 

The ACA is a comprehensive health care reform law, sometimes known as ACA, PPACA, or Obamacare, and it has three primary goals: 

  1. Make affordable health insurance available to more people. The law provides consumers with subsidies that lower costs for households with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. 
  2. Expand the Medicaid program to cover all adults with income below 138% of the federal poverty level. 
  3. Support innovative medical care delivery methods designed to lower the costs of health care generally. 

The ACA law has two parts: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.

ACA tax penalties

The ACA’s tax penalties for people without insurance were designed to offset the cost of paying for health care of people without health insurance. If you understand how Obamacare subsidies and tax penalties work, you’ll be in a better position to purchase the health insurance product that suits you best. 

What is ObamaCare?

Obamacare is intended to extend healthcare coverage to more Americans, and reshape benefits administration through regulations, fines, and penalties. Note: you might not be able to purchase Obamacare-compliant insurance at just any time of the year. Generally speaking, you need to enroll in coverage during the annual open enrollment period, or when you have a qualifying life event. 

ACA compliance

For employers to be ACA-compliant, they must include coverage for the ten essential benefits with no lifetime or annual benefit maximum and must adhere to the consumer protections built into the law. 

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